ORONO, Maine — Northeastern University erupted for three goals in a span of 2:48 in the second period, the first two by captain Aidan McDonough, and withstood a University of Maine comeback attempt to triumph 4-1 at Alfond Arena Saturday night.
McDonough, who scored 25 goals last year as an All-Hockey East left winger, scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season at the 2:21 and 3:19 marks of the second period before Matt Choupani expanded the lead to 3-0 at the 5:09 mark.
Nolan Renwick got one back for the Black Bears with 8:23 left in the second period and UMaine generated a number of glittering chances over the remainder of the period as they unleashed a 21-shot barrage.
They created a number of net-front scrambles as they threw pucks to the net and got bodies in front of Northeastern All-American goalie Devon Levi, who won the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s best goalie a year ago.
But the Black Bears couldn’t get that second goal to pull within one. UMaine had a few good looks in the third but Northeastern limited the Black Bears to six shots.
Jakov Novak added an empty-net goal. UMaine outshot Northeastern 36-27 but Levi finished with 35 saves.
“It’s the same as last week. We played hard but five minutes killed us,” said UMaine coach Ben Barr. “It’s hard to fight back from 3-0.”
He was referring to last Sunday’s 6-2 loss to Quinnipiac in which his team allowed four second-period goals including three in a span of 6:38.
“We let down for five or 10 minutes,” said junior center Lynden Breen. “Other than that, we kind of took it to them but we couldn’t finish around the net. We got to get better at that.”
Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe said it was nice to get a lead and make UMaine chase them and credited his defense corps for withstanding UMaine’s pressure as the Black Bears tried to get back into the game.
“Our D did a really good job. They had some big (blocks) and Dev (Levi) played really well,” said Keefe. “He was strong around the crease area. We were able to weather the storm.”
Northeastern is now 4-2-2 overall and 3-2-1 in Hockey East while the Black Bears fell to 2-4-1 and 0-1-1.
“We stuck to our game plan tonight and did what we do best in the offensive zone,” McDonough said.
UMaine and Northeastern battled to a 2-2 tie on Friday night and UMaine picked up an extra point in the Hockey East standings by winning the shootout.
Pivotal play: McDonough opened the scoring off a face-off play.
Sam Colangelo pounced on the puck at the base of the right circle and fired a pass to the far post where the wide open McDonough simply tapped into the empty net. Barr said one of his players missed his coverage.
“It has never worked that nicely,” grinned McDonough.
Barr said one of his players missed his coverage.
McDonough converted on the power play 58 seconds later with a one-timer from the right circle into the short side before UMaine goalie Jacob Mucitelli could scramble across.
Gunnarwolfe Fontaine set him up.
Choupani scored with a wrister from the high slot that squeezed between the pads of Mucitelli, who was then replaced by Victor Ostman.
Renwick was set up between the faceoff dots by Donavan Houle and wristed the puck past Levi’s blocker.
Mucitelli finished with 15 saves and Ostman had eight stops.
Takeaway: UMaine has to avoid those five to 10-minute lapses and start finishing the scoring chances they create with their work rate and tenacity.
Up next: UMaine faces UConn in Hartford on Friday at 7 and Saturday at 4. Northeastern hosts New Hampshire on Friday and visits UNH on Saturday. Both games are at 7.