(ORONO, MAINE) In a game that for two periods was closer than the final score, the visiting University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds men's hockey team lost 8-3 to the NCAA's Maine Black Bears.
The raucous crowd of over 4,200 at Alfond Arena, with a large core of UMaine students who stood and cheered throughout the game, saw their team jump to an early lead with two quick goals within 21 seconds of each other by captain Devin Shore and sophomore Cam Brown. The second goal came as Maine crashed the net, and was originally waved off by the referee before video review later declared it a good goal. Black Bears junior Steven Swavely scored on an odd man rush at 7:07 and Maine appeared to have a comfortable lead. As the period wore on the V-Reds rediscovered their game and almost evened up the shot clock.
The second period was a complete change. UNB dominated puck possession and play along the boards and pretty much took the boisterous crowd out of the game. Phil Maillet scored from Phil Halley at 9:09, and the two connected with Cam Brace as he sniped a goal at 16:41 to put the V-Reds within one. Maine head coach Red Gendron lauded the play of his goaltender Sean Romeo in the second period. "Sean was terrific. Basically in the second period UNB could have got five or six (goals) in my opinion."
The third period started well, but just over five minutes in it quickly became a bit of a nightmare for the Varsity Reds. After a faceoff win in the UNB zone, freshman Nolan Vesey beat Chris Carrozzi to put the Black Bears back up by two goals, and bring the nervous crowd back into the game. A minute later Maine players were swarming all around the UNB net when Carrozzi lost his stick on a poke save and Conor Riley in the confusion was able to lift the puck over his shoulder. Not done yet, on the next shift Cedric Lacroix beat Carrozzi on yet another odd man rush. Carrozzi went to the UNB bench after that third Maine goal in less than two minutes, but after a quit chat and a drink of water he returned to the V-Reds net (and the loud jeers of the student section behind him).
UNB recovered and got back to their game, and Brace's second goal was the prettiest of the night, as he took a cross-ice pass from rushing defenceman Matt Petgrave and rifled his one-timer into the top corner of the Maine net at 9:10. Even though the V-Reds continued to pour on the pressure, momentum shifted back to Maine just over four minutes later when Jack Musil jumped on a loose puck and raced into the UNB zone and went five-hole on Carrozzi. A minute later the Black Bears were on the cycle when a Ben Hutton point shot found its way through a crowd and was redirected by Dan Renouf into the net.
The final shots revealed only a slight advantage to Maine, 30-28 in the 8-3 victory, while UNB dominated faceoffs in the game 38-26.
Looking for positives UNB head coach Gardiner MacDougall said "we'll take five minutes of the first, the latter five, and 20 minutes of the second. We'll take 25 minutes of positive. It's a process, and to get where we want to go we've obviously got to have a lot more than 25 of a 60 (minutes). That's our pre-season schedule. There's a foundation that we can show that can work for and now we've got a big solid week of practice to start our regular season on the road on Saturday."
UNB is in Charlottetown Saturday night to open the AUS regular season against the UPEI Panthers.
David Kilfoil for UNB Sports Information.