ORONO, Maine — Make no mistake about it.
The swift-skating and skillful University of Notre Dame from South Bend, Indiana, was clearly the better hockey team in Saturday night’s 4-2 Hockey East victory over the University of Maine at the Alfond Arena in Orono as evidenced by its 40-19 advantage in shots on goal.
But the Black Bears were in position to pull off the upset when they took a 2-0 lead on goals by Blaine Byron 26 seconds into the game and Brendan Robbins 3:03 into the second period.
Yet again, the Black Bears’ penchant for taking ill-advised penalties occurred as Notre Dame used power-play goals by Jordan Gross and Dylan Malmquist to tie it in the second period before Malmquist scored the even-strength game-winner 2:46 into the third period and Andrew Oglevie added an insurance goal with 3:39 remaining while the teams were at even-strength.
Gross’ goal came on a five-on-three, while Malmquist’s tying goal was in a five-on-four.
Junior goalie Cal Petersen, making his 80th straight start, made 17 saves for Notre Dame (17-9-4 overall, 10-5-3 HE), while senior Matt Morris rejected 36 shots for the Black Bears (10-17-3, 4-13-1).
“We came out strong and then we got ourselves in a little penalty trouble, and they capitalized on the power play,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said.
“We were inconsistent — again,” UMaine senior defenseman and assistant captain Eric Schurhamer said. “Sometimes we weren’t moving our feet in our own zone. We got caught watching them skate around.”
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said he thought his team was playing well even when it fell behind 2-0.
“I wasn’t in a state of panic. Their goalie played very well early on but getting that first goal was a key for us. It got us going,” Jackson said.
The Irish were gifted the opportunity to cut into the deficit when rare simultaneous penalties were called on Robin Hoglund (charging) and Peter Housakos (tripping) at the 8:25 mark of the middle period.
It took just 19 seconds for them to capitalize when Anders Bjork found Gross in the middle of the slot and Gross one-timed a 25-foot blast past Morris.
UMaine had an eight-second 5-on-3 later and an ensuing 5-on-4 power play in the second period but couldn’t convert and then lost its one-man advantage when Schurhamer took a tripping call with 2:13 left in the period.
The Irish eventually went on the power play and Bobby Nardella snapped a perfect diagonal pass to Malmquist at the bottom of the left circle and he directed the puck past the helpless Morris.
“It was a dumb penalty,” a somber Schurhamer said.
Notre Dame took the lead early in the third period when Malmquist found himself behind the Black Bear defense and defenseman Dennis Gilbert flipped it to him. Malmquist teed up a slap shot from the top of the right circle and blistered a low drive into the far corner.
“That was a heckuva’ shot. He put it right over the pad and just inside the post,” said Gendron, who was pleased with Morris’ performance in his first start since he suffered a 6-3 loss to the University of Connecticut on Jan. 12.
“He played pretty well. He didn’t have anything to do with our losing the game. He gave us a chance to win it,” Gendron said.
Morris finished with 14 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 36 compared with Petersen’s four Grade-A stops.
Oglevie sewed it up off a sustained forecheck when he muscled his way to the net front and jammed home a 10-footer to extend his points streak to 10 games (9 goals, 4 assists).
Cam Brown picked up two assists for UMaine and became the 54th player in UMaine hockey history with 100 career points.
Byron, who had an assist to go with his goal, now has 99 career points. He extended his points streak to five games (3 goals, 4 assists).
Byron opened the scoring by converting the rebound of a Schurhamer wrister from the point which found its way through a forest of legs and bounced off Petersen’s chest.
Byron swooped on the rebound just outside the crease, took a few strides to his left and slid the puck into the net.
Robbins extended his goal-scoring streak to three games early in the second period when he snapped a rising wrister over Petersen’s stick into the far corner while he skated down the left wing on a two-on-one with Byron, who had made the pass to him.
UMaine will visit Merrimack for a pair next weekend, while Notre Dame entertains Providence for a two-game set.