LOWELL, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Jonathan Maniff is becoming a real nemesis for the Maine Black Bears.
The River Hawks’ sophomore right winger scored twice, including the game-winner with 22.8 seconds left Friday night, in a 3-2 men’s hockey victory over Maine.
On Dec. 29, he had two goals and an assist in a 6-0 win over Maine in the Florida College Classic championship game.
There was a faceoff in the Maine end to the right of Black Bear goalie Ben Bishop on Friday. Ben Holmstrom won it back to Maniff, who circled the net and jammed a backhander between the short-side post and Bishop’s left skate.
“Bishop came way out, so I faked a shot and went around the net,” said Maniff. “Kory Falite boxed out his man and I was able to put it in the short side, luckily.”
Bishop said he thought Maniff was going to cut across the front of the net on his forehand side, and when Maniff decided to circle the net, he was able to beat Bishop to the far post.
“It was a great stuff,” said Bishop. “That’s a tough way to lose.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said defenseman Travis Ramsey also thought Maniff was heading directly to the net and chose to chase Maniff behind the net instead of holding his ground and confronting him when he came around the cage. He also said Holmstrom speared Andrew Sweetland between the legs.
Whitehead credited Maniff with making a “great wraparound, especially on the backhand.”
Maniff has now scored four of his 10 goals against Maine this season.
“I just try to get shots to the net,” said Maniff.
“He’s a goal scorer,” said UML coach Blaise MacDonald.
UMass Lowell improved to 12-8-4 overall, 7-6-4 in Hockey East, while Maine fell to 8-12-3 and 4-9-3, respectively.
It was just the second win for UML at Tsongas Arena over Maine in 12 tries.
Maine will travel to Amherst, Mass., to face UMass tonight at 7 while UML returns to action at 4 p.m. Sunday when the River Hawks visit Vermont.
Northeastern beat UMass 1-0 Friday night. The ninth-place Bears remain two points behind UMass in the battle for the eighth and final Hockey East playoff spot.
Maine’s suddenly resurgent power play rallied the Black Bears from a 2-0 deficit as Wes Clark scored with the man advantage in the first and second periods.
His tying goal was Maine’s fifth power-play goal in 13 opportunities spanning the past three games. Maine entered the game 57th among 59 teams in NCAA Division I power-play efficiency (9.9 percent).
Falite had staked the River Hawks to a 1-0 lead just 3:35 into the game when he was left unattended in front of the Maine net. He shoveled the rebound of a Holmstrom shot from a difficult angle to Bishop’s right into the vacant net.
Maniff extended the lead 5:02 later.
Chris Auger dug the puck out behind the Maine net and put a crisp pass on the stick of Maniff, who one-timed a short wrister from the left faceoff circle over Bishop’s glove into the far corner.
“I think I was still looking behind the net,” said Bishop.
Clark’s first goal came seconds after a flurry in the Lowell end that featured several acrobatic stops by Carter Hutton.
Clark eventually gained the puck along the right-wing side and tried to slip a short pass to Matt Duffy, who was driving to the near post.
“Our defenseman dropped down to block it and it hit his stick and deflected up over me,” said Hutton.
Clark tied it 5:56 into the second period with Belmore setting it up with a nifty individual effort.
Belmore carried the puck into the UML zone in a one-on-two but curled back to wait for the Bears to make a line change and flood the offensive zone.
Clark batted the pass and Hutton made the save, but it dropped onto Clark’s stick “and I put it between his pads.”
The River Hawks had the better chances in the third period, but Bishop was razor sharp as he robbed Falite from the doorstep and, seconds later, held his ground to stop a point-blank shot by Mark Roebothan.
“We came out flying in the third period,” said Maniff.
“Bishop definitely kept them in the game,” said Hutton.
Later in the period, Hutton made a sharp stick save on a Rob Bellamy wrister headed for the far corner, then closed his pads on a Bret Tyler shot that deflected on its way to the net.
He also snapped his pads shut on a Sweetland one-timer off a Bellamy drop pass with a minute left in regulation.
UMass Lowell outshot Maine 28-20.
“We had a couple of issues,” said Whitehead. “We spotted them two goals early. Defensive zone breakdowns cost us the first two goals.”
“There’s no excuses,” said Clark, who added that they have to find ways to win soon “before it’s too late.”
Bellamy said the Bears have to be more physical and “stay out of the box.”
RIVER HAWKS 3, BLACK BEARS 2
Maine (8-12-3) 1 1 0 – 2
UMass Lowell (12-8-4) 2 0 1 – 3
First period – 1. UML, Falite 10 (Holmstrom, Dehner), 3:35; 2. UML, Maniff 9 (Auger, Stegnar), 8:37; 3. Maine, Clark 5 (Ramsey, Duffy), 19:48 (pp). Penalties: UML, Monroe, hooking, 18:30.
Second period – 4. Maine, Clark 6 (Belmore, Dimmen), 5:53 (pp). Penalties: UML, Roebothan, tripping, 1:47; Maine, Bellamy, cross checking, 2:39; UML, Capraro, hooking, 6:07; Maine, Banwell, holding, 10:57; Maine, Dimmen, hitting from behind, 14:09; UML, Cey, hooking, 17:14; Maine, Duffy, holding, 19:43.
Third period – 5. UML, Maniff 10 (Holmstrom), 19:37. Penalties: Maine, Laise, hooking, 4:31; UML, Schaus, holding the stick, 6:26; Maine, Marshall, hooking, 6:26; UML, Falite, tripping, 9:23; Maine, Laise, hooking, 12:51; UML, Campbell, diving, 12:51; UML, Monroe, tripping, 15:01; Maine, House, obstruction-interference, 15:39; Maine, Bellamy, 5-minute major for cross-checking, 19:49; UML, Holmstrom, roughing, 20:00.
Shots on goal: Maine 7-5-8-20; Lowell 7-9-12-28
Goaltenders: Maine, Bishop (28 shots-25 saves); UML, Hutton (20-18)
Power-play opportunities: Maine 2 of 6; Lowell 0 of 7
High-percentage scoring chances: Maine 7-3-5-15; Lowell 4-4-10-18