ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine entered this weekend’s series against the University of New Hampshire as the least penalized team among the nation’s 59 Division I programs.
But the Black Bears were whistled for seven minor penalties and lost senior center Adam Dawe to a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding just 10:07 into the game and UNH took full advantage.
The Wildcats scored three power play goals and earned an impressive 5-2 victory at a packed and energized Alfond Arena.
UNH improved to 14-15-1 overall, 8-12-1 in Hockey East. UMaine, a 6-3 winner over UNH on Friday, fell to 6-18-4 and 4-14-2.
UNH monopolized the puck and offensive zone time from the opening whistle, forcing UMaine sophomore goalie Victor Ostman to make a school-record 27 saves in the first period.
Ostman finished with 43 saves while Mike Robinson had to make just 16 for UNH.
Freshman left wing Liam Devlin broke a 2-2 tie 3:11 into the third period and Alex Gagne scored UNH’s third power play goal 5:20 later before Filip Engaras added an empty-net goal.
“They played a lot harder than us and the team that plays the hardest usually wins,” said UMaine captain and center Jack Quinlivan. “We weren’t moving our legs. They were moving faster. And it’s hard to get an offensive flow when you’re shorthanded all the time.”
“We played a lot better game tonight,” Devlin said. “We wanted it more than they did and it showed on the scoreboard. It was the opposite of last night. They probably deserved that one.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after two periods but Devlin’s ninth goal of the season proved to be the game-winner and was set up by Jackson Pierson and Cam Gendron.
“Jackson had it behind the net and threw it out in front. Cam Gendron had a one-timer and it hit [Ostman’s] pad and I tapped in the rebound,” Devlin said.
Gagne scored his first career goal with a wrist shot from the slot that sailed past Ostman’s glove.
Ostman’s 27 saves in the first period broke Jeff Nord’s record set against Boston University in the 1979-80 season. That was UMaine’s first season in Division I after it had a two-year stint in the old Division II, which no longer exists.
UNH’s Nick Cafarelli opened the scoring on the power play 12:35 into the first period but Quinnipiac University transfer Matthew Fawcett tied it up for UMaine 5:08 later.
It was his third of the season and Fawcett’s was his second.
Ben Poisson supplied UMaine with a 2-1 lead 59 seconds into the second period, his seventh, but Tyler Ward equalized on the power play with 6:20 left in the middle period.
It was Ward’s seventh.
Caferelli started the scoring by jamming the puck past Ostman after the goalie had made back-to-back saves off him.
Fawcett tied it off a two-on-one as his wrister from the left circle glanced in off the crossbar. Cam Spicer made the pass to him and Ostman also notched an assist.
Poisson converted a Donavan Houle pass as he was able to skate around a defenseman and get off a short wrister before being crosschecked by Devlin.
Robinson got his body on the puck but the video review revealed that the puck had crossed the goal line.
UMaine was assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice later in the period and Ward capitalized.
Kalle Eriksson fed him the puck at the top of the crease and he neatly roofed his own rebound after Ostman made the initial save.
UMaine was without injured defensemen Jakub Sirota and Sam Duerr and used all six of its remaining defensemen.
“I was proud of the guys’ response and their resiliency,” said UNH coach Mike Souza. “They were ready to play. Ostman was awesome. He gave them a chance to win it. Our power play has struggled all year but it won the game for us tonight.”
UMaine head coach Ben Barr said his team “got what it deserved.”
“UNH played great. They deserved it. It wasn’t even close,” Barr said. “We didn’t have a lot of juice but it’s hard to get it when you’re killing penalties all night. … Everyone wanted to deliver that big boom hit every time and it killed us.”
UMaine will visit Providence for a two-game set next weekend.