BOSTON – The Maine offense struck early when junior forward Adam Shemansky garnered his tenth goal of the year to put the Black Bears up 1-0. Senior forward Theo Andersson followed suit just over a minute later when he capitalized on the power play to give Maine the two-point advantage. Northeastern answered with a power play goal of its own from junior forward Vinny Saponari, but Maine answered less than a minute later with another power play goal from sophomore forward Mark Anthoine.
That was it for junior goaltender Chris Rawlings, as he was pulled in favor of sophomore Clay Witt. But the Maine offense continued to pressure, and junior forward Joey Diamond knocked one in at 3:25 in the second period to increase the Maine lead to 4-1. Success continued for Maine when the nation’s leading scorer, senior forward Spencer Abbott, got a tip off a wrister from freshman defenseman Jake Rutt to put Maine up 5-1.
The scoring continued for Maine as Abbott got his second of the night and Diamond made it 7-1. With the loss, the Huskies fell to 12-15-5, 8-13-4 in conference play, and Maine got their nineteenth win going 19-11-3 with 14-10-2 in Hockey East.
What I saw
Maine came out of the gate hot, and it was the aggressive, efficient offense expected from them last night. Abbott, Brian Flynn, and Diamond are exceptional to watch. The three combined for eight points tonight, and it was clear why Abbott leads the nation in scoring with Flynn and Diamond as line mates.
Chris Rawlings was off from the start and after the first Maine goal less than five minutes in, his confidence was visibly shaken. He made only one save of the four shots his faced in his nine minutes and 52 seconds in net, and let in a soft goal when Maine’s Andersson put his team up by two.
What I thought
Dan Sullivan looked really stellar in net for Maine, and while the score might not reflect any pressure on him, he did make 21 saves and played a big part in making sure Northeastern didn’t have a chance to close the gap.
Northeastern was facing a strong Maine offense with a very thin offense of its own. Forwards sophomore Cody Ferriero, junior Alex Tuckerman, senior captain Mike McLaughlin and junior Robbie Vrolyk were all out with injuries, and it caused a lot of shaking up in the Husky lineup, both in the forward lines and defensive pairings. Three Maine goals in the first period were not what the team needed to keep the momentum they had from last night’s 4-2 victory.
Frustrations mounted for the Huskies as Maine’s success continued, and it resulted in too many penalties at the wrong time. So much of Northeastern’s success last night came from their disciplined play and ability to keep themselves out of the box. There’s no excuse for taking a penalty for hitting after the whistle when you’re down by 3 goals and fighting for the last spot in the Hockey East playoffs.
What they said
“I thought we had more intensity and played with a little more composure as well. For the most part, we stayed out of the box at key times and just executed better as a team… it was a good, honest effort for 60 minutes.”
— Maine head coach Tim Whitehead
“We obviously didn’t get off to the start that we wanted to early in the game. I thought our kids were ready and understand the urgency to the game tonight but we just didn’t get that start and we fell behind. We compounded it after that by just taking some penalties at the wrong time. It’s not like we had that many penalties, we had seven, but we just took them at the wrong time and got a little unglued and just couldn’t battle back…we’re back tied with UMass having them won tonight so we understood the sense of urgency. Us losing a tiebreaker meant that this game was obviously important and we knew that. We just couldn’t get it done.”
— Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan
What they didn’t say
This was the Maine offense really showcasing what it can do. Last night’s game didn’t do it justice. Whitehead’s forwards really got to show what they’re capable of, and tonight that was racking up seven goals on a team they had been defeated by the night before.
Rawlings was awful in goal tonight. Saving one of four shots faced within less than ten minutes of play is awful, and while Witt let in four goals of the fourteen shots he faced, it’s easy to wonder if Rawlings’ extremely shaky performance tonight could land him off the ice again if he repeats in the first period of a critical Friday night Boston University matchup next weekend.
What else you should know
Tonight’s Northeastern loss and a University of Massachusetts win puts the two teams back in a tie for eighth place and the final Hockey East playoff spot while Maine has currently has sole possession of fourth place and home ice.
Northeastern goaltender Brian Mountain saw his first ice time since January 16, 2010 and Maine’s senior goaltender Josh Seeley saw ice time tonight in what was just his second career game as a Black Bear.
After the weekend, Maine’s Spencer Abbott leads the nation in scoring with 56 points. His line mates Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond are ranked fifth and ninth, respectively, with 45 and 41 points apiece. In Hockey East, Maine’s first line makes up the top three spots in leading scorers.