ORONO, Maine – The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team shut out Merrimack College 3-0 on Friday night at Alfond Arena. Maine had power play goals by Bret Tyler and Michel Léveillé, while Teddy Purcell had an empty net goal. Ben Bishop had 25 saves in his third shutout of the season. The Black Bears are now 20-10-2 overall and 13-10-1 in Hockey East while Merrimack is 3-24-4 overall and 3-19-2 in conference play.
The Black Bears had the first power play chance of the game beginning at 4:15 in the first period. In just over a minute, Maine converted on the advantage when Bret Tyler (Maynard, Mass.) fired a shot from the point. He was assisted on the power play goal by Mike Hamilton (Victoria, British Columbia) and Billy Ryan (Milton, Mass.) at 5:19. The Black Bears continued to pressure the Warriors early in the game, taking a nine to one lead on shots eight minutes in to the game. Following a four-on-four, Merrimack picked up the intensity, getting four straight shots on net. The first period ended with Maine having an 18-5 lead on shots.
In the second period, Maine had their second power play opportunity of the night and were able to generate two shots. At the eight minute mark, Merrimack had a shot saved and a shot blocked by Maine to keep the Warriors of the board. Merrimack went on their first power play, and had two shots saved by Ben Bishop (Des Peres, Mo.). The Warriors had a string of eight straight shots in the second period. Maine was able to take a 2-0 lead on their third power play chance of the game. At 17:17, Michel Léveillé (Levis, Quebec) fired a shot from the right circle past Jim Healey. Léveillé was assisted on the goal by Bret Tyler and Teddy Purcell (St. John’s, Newfoundland). With 1:28 remaining in the period, two players from each team were sent to the penalty box for a scuffle behind the Maine net. Four more players went to the box in the last 21 seconds of the period. Maine had an eleven to ten edge on shots in the period.
The Warriors had three straight power play chances in an eleven minute stretch of the third period. Despite several strong chances by Merrimack, Ben Bishop was able to keep them out of the net. Merrimack pulled Jim Healey with 2:09 remaining in the game, but he returned a few seconds later. With 1:31 left, Jim Healey was pulled again, and Teddy Purcell scored in the empty net on a shot from the blue line. He was assisted by Josh Soares (Hamilton, Ontario) and Michel Léveillé to give Maine the 3-0 win.
In goal, Maine’s Ben Bishop had the shutout with 25 saves. For Merrimack, Jim Healey had two goals against and 31 saves. Maine had eleven penalties for 22 minutes and Merrimack had ten penalties for twenty minutes. On power plays, Maine was 2-3 and Merrimack was 0-4. For the game, Maine led 34 to 25 on shots.
The shutout was the fourth of the year for Maine, with three by Bishop and one by Dave Wilson (Toronto, Ontario). After Friday night’s Hockey East games, Maine is tied for fourth in the standings with Massachusetts with 27 points each. Maine also secured the eighth-straight 20-win season. It is the program’s 20th season with 20 or more wins.
Maine will wrap-up the regular season home schedule on February 24 against Merrimack. The game will mark the final home game for six Black Bear seniors, who will be honored before and after the game. The contest will be broadcast live on WABI-TV 5 and also online at www.watchmainesports.com. For tickets or more information on University of Maine athletics, visit www.GoBlackBears.com or call 581-BEAR.