Notre Dame jumped on the University of Maine men’s hockey team for two goals in the first 6½ minutes Friday night, providing the impetus for a 3-2 Hockey East victory at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Coach Red Gendron’s Black Bears scored twice in the third period, but the second goal came with only four seconds remaining and was too little, too late.
UMaine (10-16-3 overall, 4-12-1 HE) returns to Alfond Arena in Orono on Saturday night to finish the season series with the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish (16-9-4, 9-5-3 HE).
Jack Jenkins and Anders Bjork staked Notre Dame to a 2-0 lead early, then Andrew Oglevie scored 97 seconds into the second period to give the visitors a three-goal cushion.
Fighting Irish goaltender Cam Petersen, making his 97th consecutive career start, came up with 29 saves to help preserve the nearly game-long lead.
Brendan Robbins and Nolan Vesey each tallied a goal for UMaine.
Rob McGovern made 18 saves over the first two periods for the Black Bears before giving way to Matt Morris. The senior, who hadn’t played since allowing five goals in a 6-3 loss at Connecticut, had seven saves on as many shots.
The Fighting Irish put the Black Bears in an early hole, scoring twice in the game’s first 6½ minutes.
Jenkins lit the fuse for Notre Dame, taking a pass in front from Cal Burke and firing it past McGovern only 65 seconds into the contest.
The visitors extended the lead barely five minutes later on a nifty individual effort by Bjork. The right winger had lost the puck, but regained control at the half-wall.
He came off the boards to the top of the left circle, where he maneuvered through two Black Bear defenders and then beat McGovern with a high wrist shot from low in the left circle at the 6:22 mark.
UMaine appeared to gain some momentum on its first power play of the contest, with Cedric Lacroix getting off a pair of close-range shots late in the man advantage. However, Petersen was able to keep the puck out of the net.
McGovern made sure the deficit remained at two goals after Blaine Byron was whistled for interference midway through the period.
He made a sprawling, right-pad save on a tap-in attempt by Bjork and then thwarted Cam Morrison’s tip of a Tory Dello diagonal pass to the lower portion of the left circle.
Chase Pearson and Patrick Shea both had shots stopped by Peterson with three minutes left in the period.
The teams each had 12 shots on goal in the first.
The Fighting Irish cashed in again early in the second period to extend their lead to 3-0.
Oglevie wound up with the puck on the right-side boards after it took an unexpected bounce off the glass. He threw a shot on net that eluded McGovern to make it 3-0 only 1:37 into the second period.
The Black Bears managed a handful of threats, including a Patrick Holway shot off a scramble in front that was stopped by Petersen. Robbins also clanged one off the crossbar.
UMaine wasn’t able to get much going on its only power play of the period at the 9:57 mark, then Pearson’s shot off an odd-man rush two minutes later wound up in Petersen’s glove.
The Black Bears demonstrated some resolve later in the period after affording Notre Dame a 5-on-3 advantage for 40 seconds after penalties to Lacroix and Mark Hamilton as they were able to keep the Irish from generating many high-percentage chances.
UMaine put on some pressure early in the third period, getting some shots through to Petersen. However, the Black Bears didn’t break through until Robbins broke in through the right circle and snuck a shot between Peterson’s pads with 7:18 to play.
Vesey’s goal came on the power play. He took a shot from below the goal line in the left corner that deflected off the back of Peterson’s right pad and in with four seconds to play.
UMaine outshot Notre Dame 31-28 and went 1-for-4 on the power play. Notre Dame was scoreless in four man-advantage situations.