ORONO – Providence College senior goalie Tyler Sims struggled in the early going this season and was replaced by junior Chris Mannix for the three games leading up to this weekend’s series at Orono against the University of Maine.
Sims got the start on Friday and made 15 saves, including two important lead-preserving stops, in a 6-2 win.
And he followed that up with a stellar 22-save shutout in Saturday night’s 1-0 triumph at Alfond Arena.
Providence improved to 3-5-1 overall, 3-2-1 in Hockey East, while Maine, which has scored only three goals in its last three games, fell to 4-4-1, 2-2-1, respectively.
Maine’s power play continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 with just two shots on goal. Maine is now just 3-for-46 with the man advantage (6.5 percent).
Junior center Nick Mazzolini scored the game’s only goal 12:08 into the second period. It came 14 seconds after the Friars killed off a Maine power play that spanned three minutes.
Sims became the first opposing goalie in the history of Maine’s program, dating back to 1977-78, to post two shutouts at Orono. Three of his five career shutouts have come at the expense of the Bears including one in Providence.
“I like playing up here,” said Sims. “I really like the crowd. They bring a lot of excitement.”
Sims made nine Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 22. He made gems off Maine freshman right wing Andrew Sweetland and senior center Rob Bellamy late in the third period.
He had also held his ground on a Sweetland backhander in the second period after Sweetland cleverly maneuvered around a Friar defenseman.
In the third period, Bellamy was set up smartly in the middle of the low slot by Sweetland and got off a one-timer only to have Sims kick it out.
With Maine goalie Ben Bishop on the bench in favor of an extra attacker in the final minute of play, Sims squared up on the near post to rob Sweetland, who had a couple of point-blank shots off a Billy Ryan pass.
“This was an unbelievable win for us,” said Sims. “It’s great any time you can get a sweep in this league. It’s very tough to do, especially up here.”
It was Providence’s first sweep over the Bears in Orono since 1985.
Sims credited his mates with making his job easier.
“I saw just about every shot and the guys did a great job clearing rebounds. They also blocked a lot of shots (10),” said Sims, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday night.
“He played extremely well,” said Maine senior defenseman Bret Tyler. “He kept everything pretty much in front of him and covered everything up. You’ve got to give him credit. He allowed only two goals this weekend.”
“Sims was great. He was the difference tonight. He made some big stops, especially in the third period,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who was much more satisfied with his team’s performance than he was with the previous night’s.
“We showed a lot better effort tonight. We played with a lot more heart. It just didn’t translate into a win,” Whitehead added.
Bishop also turned in an outstanding performance.
He was the busier of the two goalies, finishing with 33 saves including 10 Grade-As.
Mazzolini, Bishop’s former teammate with the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League, scored with a one-timer to the blocker side from the middle of the high slot off a Pierce Norton pass.
Matt Taormina had flipped the puck down the ice to relieve pressure at the end of the penalty kill and Norton came out of the penalty box and chased down the puck in the left corner after stumbling and falling down.
“I think I lost an edge [on my skate]. I saw [Mazzolini] coming down the slot and I knew he’d be ready for [my pass],” said Norton, who had served a five-minute major for Ian O’Connor, who had also received a game misconduct.
“I knew Bishop would come sliding over and he slid over a little too far. So I put it back to the side he had come from,” said Mazzolini, who admitted he didn’t get as much on the shot as he would have liked.
“[Mazzolini] did a good job. It was weird. It was like a change-up in baseball. It fools you,” said Bishop. “I don’t know if he got all of it.”
Bishop called the Friars a “very good offensive team” and felt his team played a “lot better” than it did on Friday night.
“We worked hard. Friday night’s game was the worse we’ve played in my three years here,” said Bishop.
Maine was without senior center Wes Clark (injury), who is tied for the team scoring lead, along with freshman center Tanner House and freshman defenseman Jeff Dimmen, who were both suspended for violation of team rules.
FRIARS 1, BLACK BEARS 0
Providence (3-5-1) 0 1 0 – 1
Maine (4-4-1) 0 0 0 – 0
First period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Marshall, elbowing, 2:02; PC, Laughlin, slashing, 7:12; PC, Mazzolini, holding, 16:44.
Second period – 1. PC, Mazzolini 2 (Norton, Taormina), 12:08. Penalties: Maine, Carriere, tripping, 6:54; PC, O’Connor, five-minute major for hitting from behind and game misconduct, 6:54; PC, Taormina, contact to the head-roughing, 12:56; Maine, Dee, contact to the head-roughing, 12:56; PC, Lavin, hitting after the whistle, 18:44; Maine, de Kastrozza, hitting after the whistle, 18:44; Maine, Bishop, delay of game (served by Belmore), 18:44; PC, J. Cavanagh, double minor for slashing and hitting after the whistle, 19:39; Maine, Ramsey, hitting after the whistle, 19:39.
Third period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Ramsey, tripping, 19:59.
Shots on goal: PC 13-12-9-34; Maine 8-8-6-22
Goaltenders: PC, Sims (22 shots-22 saves); Maine, Bishop (34-33)
Power-play opportunities: PV 0-3 (2 shots on goal), Maine 0-4 (2)
High-percentage scoring chances: PC 7-7-6-20; Maine 5-4-5-14
. Maine’s power play is now just 3-for-46.
. Providence’s Tyler Sims is the first opposing goalie in the history of Maine’s program, dating back to 1977-78, to post two shutouts at Orono.
. Maine has scored only three goals in its last three games.