ORONO – Some losses are more frustrating than others.
The University of Maine Black Bears held nationally ranked Northeastern University to 13 shots on goal Saturday night, NU’s lowest total since a 10-shot outing against UMass Lowell on Feb. 8, 2007.
But NU received third-period goals from Rob Rassey and Ryan Ginand to top Maine 2-1.
Ginand celebrated playing in his 100th college game by breaking a 1-1 tie with 3:37 remaining. Rassey had tied it with 10:58 left.
Northeastern improved to 5-0-1 overall, 4-0 in Hockey East, its second best start ever. Maine fell to 1-3 and 0-2 and was swept at home by the Huskies for the first time since Jan. 28-29, 1994.
The Bears outshot the Huskies 27-13 and attempted 60 shots to NU’s 35.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They hung around and got those key goals. We couldn’t bury the puck both nights and it killed us,” said Maine center Chris Hahn.
Northeastern junior goalie Brad Thiessen, who blanked the Bears 5-0 on Friday night, made 26 saves in another impressive performance, including 11 off Grade-A (high-percentage) shots. Maine freshman Scott Darling, making his home debut, finished with 11 saves, three off Grade-A shots.
“This was an ugly win but a great win,” said NU coach Greg Cronin. “My hat’s off to Maine. They had a lot of energy. Coming back from Alaska, you’d think they’d be a little slow. But they looked sharp and they pursued the puck like they did Friday night.”
“We’re very fortunate to come out of this game with two points.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead was pleased with his team’s play.
“We got to the front of their net and protected the front of our net very well. We took a real good step tonight. The result was unfortunate,” said Whitehead, who played 14 freshmen and sophomores.
Freshman Spencer Abbott staked Maine to a 1-0 lead on a 5-on-3 power play in the first period as he was parked to Thiessen’s right and flipped home a Josh Van Dyk rebound.
But the Bears, despite having a rare 4-on-3 power play spanning 1:49 in the second period, couldn’t get a two-goal cushion.
Maine didn’t get a shot on goal during the 4-on-3.
Rassey tied it off a miscue by Darling, who tried to shoot the puck off the glass out of the zone only to have it deflect right to Alex Tuckerman.
Tuckerman alertly spotted the unattended Rassey in front and Rassey tipped the pass between Darling’s legs.
“I shouldn’t have tried to play it up the boards. I should have put it behind the net,” said Darling.
Ginand decided it with a backhander from a difficult angle to Darling’s left after coming out from behind the net and cutting toward the corner away from a Bear defenseman.
“I did a little spin-a-rama and tried to put it up as high as I could,” said Ginand.
“It was kind of weird,” said Darling. “As [Ginand] came out, he kind of nudged me. I fell out of position. The puck hit off my [right] arm and went through my five-hole because I was off-balance.”
HUSKIES 2, BLACK BEARS 1
Northeastern (5-0-1) 0 0 2 – 2
Maine (1-3) 1 0 0 – 1
First period – 1. Maine, Abbott 1 (Van Dyk, Danis-Pepin), 18:11 (5-on-3 pp). Penalties: Maine, Abbott, cross-checking, 13:19; NU, Liotti, hooking, 16:40; NU, Vitale, slashing, 17:24.
Second period – No scoring. Penalties: NU, Driscoll, contact-to-the-head roughing, 3:42; Maine, Dimmen, tripping, 10:47; NU, McNeely, hitting after the whistle, 14:39; Maine, Payson, hitting after the whistle, 14:39; NU, Vitale, tripping, 14:50; Maine, Orsini, tripping, 17:40.
Third period – 2. NU, Rassey 2 (Tuckerman), 9:02; 3. NU, Ginand 3 (Kraemer, Liotti), 16:23. Penalties: NU, McNeely, boarding, 1:42.
Shots on goal: NU 4-5-4-13; Maine 11-8-8-27
Goaltenders: NU, Thiessen (27 shots-26 saves); Maine, Darling (13-11)
Power-play opportunities: NU 0 of 3, Maine 1 of 5
High-percentage scoring chances: NU 3-5-4-12; Maine 5-8-4-17