Orono, Maine- Maine and Providence locked into a defensive battle early and stuck with it most of the contest. The Friars took a 1-0 lead 11 minutes, seven seconds into the first period on a goal by Mark Jankowski. Providence would hold that lead through the first and second intermissions, as neither team was able to solve the opposing goaltender. Joey Diamond finally solved Jon Gillies with 7:27 left in the third period on the shorthand and he would also score a goal with three minutes to go on the power-play to send the game into overtime.
The overtime was uneventful until the waning seconds where Noel Acciari would come in on a breakaway, but Maine goaltender, Dan Ouellette would make the huge save to preserve the tie. Providence goes to 10-10-5 overall, 8-6-4 in Hockey East, while Maine moves into a tie for ninth in the standings at 7-14-5, and 3-9-5 in Hockey East. The Black Bears now sit a single point out of a playoff spot and Providence sits in a tie for fourth place.
What I Saw
- Maine’s second line filled with young talent struggled to get out of their own defensive zone for much of the night. Devin Shore is a second round pick of the Dallas Stars and is joined by fellow classmates Ryan Lomberg and Will Merchant. This line just had an all around defensive challenge, but such is the case with young players that side of ice is usually more difficult to learn. If one thing is a positive, defensively they had few defensive breakdowns. They just struggled to get out of their zone to get themselves opportunities. They were on the ice for the first Providence goal, where Devin Shore mishandled the puck and it found the back of the net.
- Providence was very opportunistic and played a great defensive game against the Black Bears. It seemed as though as the game went on the Friars got stronger on defense, until late in the game. They scored an insurance marker at 6:55 of the third period that was again opportunistic as Kyle Murphy won a faceoff back to Derek Army and the latter was true to make it 2-0. The insurance was not enough as the momentum swung heavily on the Joey Diamond shorthanded goal.
What I Thought
- Its shocking to me to think that Maine would get complacent a week after sweeping Boston College, but that was seemingly the case for much of the first 50 minutes of the game. Providence won most of the puck battles, while Maine just struggled to find the puck throughout the game. If Maine is to resurrect their season that will have to change in a big way going forward. Until then they will continue to struggle on home ice.
- Providence took an ill-advised penalty with less than four minutes to go in the third period leading 2-1. Its always seems as though these late power-plays come back to bite and this one did. Devin Shore sent a puck to the net and Joey Diamond tipped it past Jon Gilles to tie the game at two. This penalty by Schaller was from one that you would least expect it from. The Friars are young and a senior assistant-captain should be the last player taking a penalty of this magnitude.
What They Said
Providence coach Nate Leaman said
“Even after we scored the second goal, I thought we had a lot of good chances to extend the lead. I felt we were rattled a lot mostly because of the environment with ten freshmen. We scored a goal to make it 2-0 and Ouellette made some great saves for them.”
“We took two really bad penalties in the third period and we let them back into the game. its the process of learning to win with a young team, but it was our upperclassmen that took those penalties. The environment got to two of our upperclassmen and we needed better leadership.”
Providence forward Derek Army said,
“I think we were playing hard and those guys are playing a lot of minutes (talking about the late penalties). It is our job to kill the penalties off for them.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead,
“it was great to come back and tie that one. I was pleased with how hard our guys fought hard for each other.”
What Else You Should Know
Maine will play again Sunday afternoon as UMass-Lowell will make their lone trip to Alfond Arena. Earlier in the season, Maine lost 2-1 and defeated UMass-Lowell in a weekend series. Maine is now 5-3-2 since coming back from the Christmas break, but still winless at Alfond.
Providence will next play next Friday as they begin a home and home series against UNH. They defeated UNH two weeks ago 6-5 at the Whittemore Center.
Maine first line center, Kyle Beattie, was checked hard against the boards at the red line and will miss at least Sunday’s game against UMass-Lowell. He has been diagnosed with a sever concussion. It is his third concussion of the season, so it’s probably safe to say he will done for the year.