ORONO – A stick save changed the complexion of Friday night’s 4-2 University of Maine men’s hockey victory over Mercyhurst College at Alfond Arena.
But there was nobody attached to the stick at the time.
Midway through the second period, with Maine holding a 2-0 lead, Mercyhurst generated a three-on-one and had several good scoring chances during a wild flurry.
Maine goalie Ben Bishop stopped a couple shots and another shot hit a Laker and deflected to Neil Graham.
But with a desperate Bishop diving head-first across the goal mouth and an empty net staring at him, Graham’s roller hit the stick of Bishop, which had slipped out of the goalie’s hands.
Seconds later, Chris Hahn scored for the Bears to make it 3-0 and Bret Tyler added another 32 seconds later to extend the lead.
Maine is now 1-2 while Mercyhurst fell to 0-3. The two teams will play again tonight at 7.
“That was the key exchange of the game,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
“That was a tough pill to swallow,” said Mercyhurst senior center Ben Cottreau. “We had a chance to score but didn’t finish and then they came down and took advantage.”
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said he thought Bishop purposely threw the stick which would have resulted in a penalty shot.
Bishop denied it.
“I dove across and reached with my stick. The puck hit my stick and it came out of my hands,” said Bishop.
Seconds later, Hahn, whose assist on Wes Clark’s goal earlier in the period snapped his 19-game pointless streak, skated out of the corner to the right of Mercyhurst freshman goalie Ryan Zapolski and roofed a backhander into the far corner from in- tight.
“Their defenseman was out high so I went to the net. I was able to pull the puck around the goalie and put it in far corner,” said Hahn.
Just 32 seconds later, Tyler made it 4-0 when he cruised down the slot onto a loose puck off the stick of Andrew Sweetland and a Laker defenseman and snapped a one-timer past Zapolski.
“I saw the five-hole open and tried to put it there,” said Tyler.
Travis Ramsey had scored the only goal of the first period and Clark expanded the lead to 2-0 8:42 into the second period.
Ramsey opened the scoring at the 17:24 mark of the first period when his wrister from the point beat Zaposki to the glove side.
“I saw it but it was tipped in front,” said Zapolski.
Clark scored off a pinpoint diagonal pass from Mike Banwell from the right point.
Banwell kept the puck in and Clark was all alone at the far post. The poised Clark made a quick move before tucking a backhander under Zapolski.
“I outwaited the goalie and put it in short side,” said Clark.
“I was flopping,” said Zapolski who was disappointed with that goal as well as Tyler’s.
Mercyhurst rallied to make things interesting in the third period when Cottreau and Scott Pitt scored 3:47 apart to close the gap with 7:38 remaining.
Cottreau scored of a Toomey pass after Toomey stole the puck from Banwell with 11:25 remaining. He snapped a 20-foot wrister past Bishop’s stick.
Pitt scored a power-play goal off a wild scramble.
But the energized Lakers took some ill-advised penalties late in the game that hurt their chance of any further comeback.
Maine outshot Mercyhurst 49-25.
Both goalies were outstanding as Bishop finished with 23 saves and Zapolski stopped 45 shots. .
Whitehead was pleased with the first two periods but disappointed with his team’s play in the third period.
“There were a lot of positives but we didn’t play a complete game. We learned a great lesson in the third period,” said Whitehead.
Gotkin was not enamored with his team’s performance.
“We were awful. We weren’t good enough to beat a team like Maine in their building tonight,” said Gotkin.
Maine’s Rob Bellamy and Mercyhurst’s Brett Robinson received five-minute fighting majors and game disqualifications and will miss tonight’s game.
Senior Nolan Boike, who pitches for the Maine baseball team, made his debut for the Bears on the right wing.
BLACK BEARS 4, LAKERS 2
Mercyhurst (0-3) 1 3 0 – 4
Maine (1-2) 0 0 2 – 2
First period – 1. Maine, Ramsey 1 (Laise, Sweetland), 17:24. Penalties: Mcy, Coccimiglio, hooking, :42; Mcy, Coccimiglio, slashing, 8:58; Maine, Marshall, 10:59; Maine, Laise, double-minor for hooking and roughing, 17:51; Maine, Tyler, hooking, 18:04.
Second period – 2. Maine, Clark 1 (Hahn, Banwell), 8:42; 3. Maine, Hahn 1 (Bellamy, Orsini), 11:31; 4. Maine, Tyler 2 (Sweetland, House), 12:03. Penalties: Mcy, Collins, roughing, 5:06; Maine, Laise, roughing, 5:06; Mcy, Fennell, hooking, 5:49; Mcy,.Robinson, five-minute major for fighting and game disqualification, 11:31; Mcy, Phillips, roughing, 11:31; Maine, Bellamy, five-minute major for fighting and game disqualification, 11:31; Maine, Danis-Pepin, roughing, 11:31; Maine, Clark, holding the stick, 12:30; Mcy, Medemach, tripping, 18:23; Maine, Orsini, contact to the head-roughing, 18:59.
Third period – 5. Mcy, Cottreau 1 (Toomey, Coccimiglio), 8:35; 6. Mcy, Pitt 1 (Cottreau, Coccimiglio) pp, 12:22. Penalties: Mcy, Eddy, hooking, :34; Mcy, Cottreau, boarding, 6:08; Maine, Laise, slashing, 10:40; Mcy, Fennell, interference, 13:30; Mcy, Fisher, hitting from behind, 15:32; Mcy, Phillips, roughing, 16:58; Maine, Orsini, roughing, 16:58; Maine, Marshall, hooking, 16:58; Mcy, Cameron, cross-checking, 18:41.
Shots on goal: Mercyhurst 5-8-12-25; Maine 14-18-17-49
Goaltenders: Mercyhurst, Zapolski (49 shots-45 saves); Maine, Bishop (25-23)
Power-play opportunities: Mercyhurst 1 of 8; Maine 0 of 8
High-percentage scoring chances: Mercyhurst 4-7-5-15; Maine 10-11-9-30