BOSTON — Maine senior Brian Flynn scored 1 minute, 29 seconds into the overtime, as Maine defeated New Hampshire, 5-4, in the second game from Fenway Park Saturday night.
While Flynn factored in just one of Maine’s five goals, linemates Spencer Abbot and Joey Diamond gave the Black Bears great efforts with three assists and two goals and an assist, respectively. The line as been Maine’s most consistent all season, and its performance on such a large stage could be big for the Black Bears moving forward.
Fore New Hampshire, the same issues they’ve experienced for most of the season showed up again. While the offense eventually found its stride after struggling early on, UNH’s team defense let it down once again. On the penalty kill, the Wildcats allowed three goals to Maine. Kevin Goumas picked up a pair of goals for UNH, including a shorthanded goal with two teammates in the box.
What I Saw
- The teams spent the second half of periods playing more conservatively than the first. As the periods moved forward and the ice softened, the players shifted from their usual aggressive play. All nine of the goals scored in the period came came in the first half of a period or a minute or two after. Play slowed from that point on, and the teams opted for shorter shifts and essentially eliminated any risky passing plays. Late in regulation, both teams were more forceful, especially UNH, but the hesitance was obvious throughout the game.
- Maine’s second and third lines provided a greater lift than they were earlier in the season. The pair of goals scored by third-like Marc Anthoine gave him eight on the season. While both came on the power play without his usual linemates, Stu Higgins and Connor Leen, the sophomore has developed a scoring touch that Maine needs to succeed late in the season. Players like Kyle Beattie and Adam Shemansky gave similarly strong efforts for Maine, contributing in maintain possession and helping the Black Bears establish their power play.
- Dan Sullivan fought the puck most of the night. The sophomore has been good at times for Maine, but the Wildcats appeared to have him off his game at times. Shots from the point, especially those from the center of the blue line, challenged Sullivan who missed a few before they were already on him. Fortunately for Maine, those shots were high or wide more often than not. However, even on shots from close range, Sullivan struggled to react well. In the end, the Maine defense prevented UNH from maintaining consistent pressured, which resulted in just 10 shots through the first two periods. Late in the game, though, when the Wildcats became more urgent, they successfully created offense on Sullivan with good puck movement and quality shots from distance.
- Spencer Abbott was Maine’s best player on the ice. Both Diamond and Anthoine scored twice, while Brian Flynn picked up the game-winning goal. However, both of Diamond’s goals and Flynn’s winner began with the heady play from Abbot. On Diamond’s second goal, Abbott moved from the half-wall to the slot with the puck on his forehand and a UNH defender playing him closely. After a quick stop, he drew the UNH defender and slid the puck into the low slot where Diamond easily slipped it past UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith. Abbott’s pass was one that very few players in college hockey could successfully make. Abbott does this every week for the Black Bears, and this is why he’s a frontrunner for Hockey East Player of the Year.
- UNH’s team defense was as bad as ever. Once again, the Wildcats received a solid performance on the offensive end, but were plainly terrible defensively. Both coaches used the word “luck” and “bounce” when describing Flynn’s winner, but Maine’s puck movement on the play was barely challenged by the Wildcat skaters. Both of Diamond’s goals, while finished clinically, could have been prevented with better defense — something UNH has yet to show on a consistent basis this season. DeSmith has essentially taken the job from senior goaltender Matt Di Girolamo, but it really won’t matter if UNH’s defense doesn’t get better quickly.