FAIRBANKS, Alaska – University of Maine freshman goalie Scott Darling’s debut was memorable.
The 6-foot-5 native of Lemont, Ill. made 24 saves, including 15 in the third period, to lead the Black Bears to a 2-0 win over Alaska-Fairbanks in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush Tournament Saturday night.
Sophomore right wing Lem Randall’s first-period power-play goal was the game-winner and senior right wing Jeff Marshall provided an insurance goal in the second period.
The 1-1 Black Bears open their Hockey East and home schedules Friday night when they host Northeastern for a two-game set.
“I was really happy with the overall game and how everyone played in front of me. They made my life easier,” said Darling. “It feels good to get my first win and have it be a shutout, too.”
Randall scored 12:24 into the game when he burst down the slot toward the far post and directed a pinpoint pass from Keif Orsini between UAF goalie Chad Johnson’s left skate and the short-side post.
Spencer Abbott also picked up an assist.
“It was a good play by Spencer to hold [the puck in at] the blue line and Orsini made a quick tic-tac-toe pass to me and I tapped it in,” said Randall.
Senior co-captain Marshall expanded the lead at the 1:37 mark of the second period.
Sophomore defenseman Josh Van Dyk sliced across the slot, engaged a pair of Nanooks and then slid the puck over to the unattended Marshall, who was driving toward the near post.
Marshall took a stride and fired a quick wrister that beat Johnson high to the short side.
“I think [Johnson] may have been playing the pass,” said Marshall referring to a potential pass across the goalmouth.
In addition to Van Dyk, Matt Duffy was credited with an assist.
Maine outshot Alaska-Fairbanks 21-9 over the first two periods but the desperate Nanooks (2-1-1) came alive in the third period, outshooting Maine 15-4.
However, they couldn’t put the puck behind Darling.
Maine went 1-for-7 on the power play while Alaska-Fairbanks went 0-for-7.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead was pleased with the win.
“It was a good game for us,” Whitehead said. “We limited their scoring chances, especially early in the game. They’re a good team and they went after us in the third period but the guys didn’t panic and protected the puck and the front of our net pretty well.”
He also said Darling turned in a quality performance.
“He had a good game. He wasn’t tested much early but he made some key stops for us throughout the game, especially in the third period,” said Whitehead.
“You couldn’t have asked for anything more out of him,” agreed Randall. “He stood on his head when we needed him.”
Whitehead praised his four seniors, Marshall and left wing Chris Hahn along with defensemen Simon Danis-Pepin and Duffy.
“They all played really well, especially Simon and Jeff,” said Whitehead. “Simon elevated his game. He made the all-tournament team.
“Jeff played a great two-way game. He scored a key goal, blocked shots and killed penalties,” said Whitehead, who had suspended Marshall for Friday night’s 3-1 loss to Alaska-Anchorage due to a hit to the head against the University of New Brunswick’s Kyle Bailey the previous weekend.
No penalty was called. Bailey suffered a concussion.
“I know Jeff didn’t mean to hurt him. But we have to play with discipline this season,” explained Whitehead.
“I take full responsibility for it. I’ve got to know better. I’m glad [Bailey] is going to be all right. It was tough sitting in the stands Friday night. I felt I owed the guys something Saturday night,” said Marshall.
BLACK BEARS 2, NANOOKS 0
Maine (1-1) 1 1 0 – 2
Alaska-Fairbanks (2-1-1) 0 0 0 – 0
First period – 1. Maine, Randall 1 (Orsini, Abbott), 12:24 (pp). Penalties: UAF, Hohl, tripping, 2:37; UAF, Hohl, boarding, 4:54; Maine, Hegarty, holding, 7:29; UAF, Finucci, slashing, 10:33; UAF, Hohl, contact to the head-roughing, 14:15; UAF, Molle, interference, 15:21; Maine, Dee, hooking, 18:09; Maine, Banwell, cross-checking, 18:49.
Second period – 2. Maine, Marshall 1 (Van Dyk, Duffy), 1:37. Penalties: UAF, Sather, cross-checking, 5:17; Maine, Payson, hooking, 9:52; Maine, Orsini, slashing, 16:53.
Third period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Randall, charging, 7:30; Maine, Randall, goaltender interference, 9:45; UAF, Klassen, elbowing, 18:53.
Shots on goal: Maine 12-9-4-25; UAF 6-3-15-24
Goaltenders: Maine, Darling (24 shots-24 saves); UAD, Johnson (25-23)
Power-play opportunities: Maine 1 of 7, UAF 0 of 7