Orono, ME – The No. 8 University of Maine men’s ice hockey team came to Alfond Arena Sunday afternoon looking for redemption against the UMass-Amherst after suffering a very disappointing overtime loss against New Hampshire Friday night, but despite a rocky start, Maine rolled over the Minutemen, 4-1, on the stick of Brian Flynn’s hat trick.
The Minutemen entered the game on a four-game hot streak, going unbeaten against Hockey East teams while outscoring their opponents 14-5. UMass-Amherst also boasted on a five-game win streak against the Black Bears, including sweeping them in the three-game series last year.
From the start of the game, Amherst took full advantage of the lack luster performance of the Black Bears and goalie Dan Sullivan.
Until 14:34 into the period, Maine was able to keep the Minutemen at bay, but no longer after senior left winger Chase Langeraap received a well-placed pass to from left to right of Sullivan and the senior one-timered it home to take a 1-0 lead on the road.
“UMass looked great in the first period they really had us back on our heels for several shifts.” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Thankfully, we weathered the storm thanks to Sully making so really good stops.”
In the second period, Maine seemed to find their legs, both on offense and defense.
Brian Flynn found the loose puck near the left circle, and fired a snapshot sending the puck screaming over the blocker of Amherst goaltender Paul Dainton to tie the game at one goal apiece at the 5:33 mark.
“Robby (Dee) was battling for the puck, the puck squirted out and I quickly ripped it,” said Flynn.
Flynn’s goal would end up being the only goal of the second period, but it seemed the period brought the Black Bears and the 4,468 in attendance at Alfond Arena to life for the first time in the game.
Brian Flynn found his second goal of the game just 2:24 into the third period on the power play.
Maine pressed the Amherst goal throwing a flurry of shot on Dainton, but it was Flynn who found a juicy rebound and hit the back of the net to give Maine a 2-1 lead early in the third.
“I’m proud of the poise and purpose we showed out and that we were able to get an important power play goal, so a lot that frustrated us on Friday night we fought through tonight,” said Whitehead after the game.
Midway through the final period, the Black Bears struck while the iron was hot when Brice O’Connor fired a shot near the blue line which on the way to the net hit Adam Shamansky’s stick and was deflected behind Dainton to increase the lead to 3-1 for the Black Bears.
With 2:04 left in the game, the hats came off and hit the ice after Flynn received an amazing pass from Joey Diamond and made Dainton pay with a one-timer, extending the lead to 4-1 as Flynn recorded the hat trick.
Maine now heads in the holiday break with an 8-4-4 record overall.
Dan Sullivan had a shaky start, but in the end he stood strong, saving 21 shots for the win and extending his record to 5-3-1.