University of Maine men's ice hockey freshman defenseman Luke Antonacci. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

The University of Maine men’s hockey team ended its seven-game winless streak Saturday afternoon at Alfond Arena, erupting for three second-period goals to beat defending three-time Atlantic Hockey champion American International College 5-1.

The Black Bears completely dominated the game from the opening whistle and, after the teams swapped first-period goals, UMaine received a pair of second-period goals from junior center Lynden Breen and another by Donavan Houle to build a 4-1 lead.

Freshman defenseman Luke Antonacci added a third-period goal as UMaine improved to 3-8-1.

It was the most goals UMaine scored in a game this season. UMaine had scored just 12 goals in its seven-game winless streak.

American International College of Springfield, Massachusetts, fell to 7-7-3 and had its three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) snapped.

“I was proud of the guys,” said UMaine coach Ben Barr. “The effort was good just like it’s been in every game. It’s just that we found a way to get a few more goals today.”

“This has been a long time coming,” said Breen. “We’ve had the effort. We’ve deserved a night like this all season. We won every battle and we owned both net fronts.”

AIC coach Eric Lang said, “We weren’t very good but credit Benny Barr and that University of Maine hockey team. They outskated us, outcompeted us, second and third efforts on pucks. The hungriest and most competitive team usually wins the hockey game and that was Maine tonight.

“I really appreciate how hard that Maine hockey team works and that’s a direct reflection of Benny Barr,” added Lang who said the team’s work ethic reminds him of the good teams at UMass where Barr had been an assistant until coming to UMaine.

UMaine’s Nolan Renwick opened the scoring at the 8:20 mark of the first period, his third goal of the season.

Julius Janhonen tied it on the power play 3:13 later, the fourth-consecutive power play goal allowed by the Black Bears after Merrimack went 3-for-3 in their last game two weeks ago.

Breen broke the tie at the 1:06 mark of the second period.

Breen won a face-off back to Grayson Arnott at the right point. Arnott’s wrist shot glanced off Felix Trudeau’s side and then off Breen’s rear end before nestling in the net behind goalie Jarrett Fiske.

Breen expanded the lead at the 14:31 mark when he maneuvered cleverly out of the corner to  Fiske’s right and took a low wrist shot from the circle that slipped past Fiske, who was being screened by Ben Poisson.

“My linemates (Poisson, Trudeau) opened up the ice for me, and I just try to get the puck to the net,” said Breen.

Houle made it 4-1 just 1:20 later when Killian Kiecker-Olson poked a puck free near the offensive blue line, and Houle and Mike Mancinelli broke into the zone.

Mancinelli took a shot from the left circle that was kicked out by Jarrett Fiske, but Houle beat an AIC defenseman to the net and tapped in the rebound.

Antonacci scored his first collegiate goal with a wrist shot from the right point off a Didrik Henbrant pass.

Renwick had opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the right circle off a Felix Trudeau pass after Renwick had jumped onto the ice on a line change.

Janhonen tied it by finishing off a beautiful passing sequence involving Blake Bennett and Dustin Manz.

UMaine outshot AIC 46-18, including a 22-8 edge in the middle period.

Victor Ostman  made 17 saves while Fiske had 33 through two periods and Brennan Boynton made eight in the third period.

Pivotal player: Breen scored his team-leading fifth and sixth goals of the season, and he now has four goals in his last four games.

Takeaway: This is the type of game UMaine needed to gain its scoring confidence.

Up next: UMaine visits Vermont for a pair of Hockey East games at 7 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday. AIC plays a home-and-home with Bentley on Thursday and Friday nights.