ORONO, Maine — University of Maine men’s hockey coach Red Gendron was pleased that his Black Bears completed a weekend sweep of the University of Massachusetts with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night, but he was perplexed by his team’s lackluster performance.
Sophomore goalie Rob McGovern stole the win with a terrific 44-save performance as the smaller but quicker Minutemen thoroughly dominated all aspects of the game.
UMaine improved to 10-13-3 overall, 4-9-1 in Hockey East, while UMass fell to 5-19-2 and 2-11-1. UMass has now lost seven straight and 12 of its last 13 and its 19 losses are third-most among the 60 Division I schools.
UMaine won 4-1 on Friday night.
UMass attempted 88 shots to UMaine’s 47 and had a 45-22 edge in shots on goal.
UMass is the nation’s second lowest scoring team, averaging just 1.92 goals per game.
McGovern finished with 24 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops among his 44 while Nic Renyard wound up with 20 stops including 15 Grade-A’s.
Gendron said the game could be summed up in two sentences.
“We got an exceptional performance from our goalie. And hats off to UMass for how hard they played. That’s the story of the game. No more needs to be said,” said Gendron, who preferred to field questions from the media about his team’s showing rather than have his players try to explain it.
“We know we got outplayed,” an irritated Gendron said. “For whatever reason, we appeared to be exhausted. I don’t know why. That happens during a season. I don’t know if we were emotionally or physically exhausted. I know we’re in good enough shape, physically.
“For all the games in which we’ve played very well and come up with nothing, I’m happy to take two points when we didn’t play well as a team,” Gendron added.
Blaine Byron’s first-period goal and Rob Michel’s flukey second-period goal staked UMaine to a 2-0 lead against the run of play but Jake Horton capitalized on a fortuitous bounce to convert a breakaway just after coming out of the penalty box later in the middle period.
McGovern preserved the victory with 3.9 seconds left in the second period when he made an exceptional save off Ray Pigozzi on a 2-on-1.
Brett Boeing carried the puck down the left wing and fed a perfect pass across to Pigozzi. McGovern extended his left pad and glove to rob Pigozzi, who fired a one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
“I knew there wasn’t much time left in the period. I thought [Boeing] was going to shoot. When he made the pass, it was desperation [for me] and I made a lucky save. I caught it between my glove and my pad,” McGovern said.
UMass coach Greg Carvel said he was “very proud” of his team.
“I’ve coached a lot of games and I don’t know if I’ve ever been in one in which we deserved to win more than this one. For 60 minutes, we carried the play and the momentum and we moved the puck tremendously well on the power play. But we didn’t make life tough enough on [McGovern]. He was able to see just about everything and he’s a big guy who covered up on rebounds well,” Carvel said.
Byron opened the scoring at the 15:14 mark of the initial period.
He stickhandled cleverly into a shooting lane and took a snap shot that was kicked out by Renyard.
Michel made it 2-0 in the second period when he threw the puck on net from along the right-wing boards and it popped out of the glove of Renyard and fluttered over his head into the net.
The shot was going high, but Renyard stabbed at it.
“Their forwards were excellent shot blockers so I never hesitated. I just ripped it,” Michel said. “It wasn’t the prettiest goal. But I’ll take it.”
“It’s tough to lose on a fluke goal when you’ve played so well. That’s why you throw pucks at the net,” Carvel said.
UMass scored when Cedric Lacroix’s shot from an acute angle deflected off Renyard and the puck skipped to Horton, who had just exited the penalty box and broke in alone down the right wing.
He beat McGovern with a rising, 20-foot wrist shot.