ORONO, Maine - The University of Maine men's ice hockey team defeated Merrimack College 5-1 on Saturday night at Alfond Arena to sweep the weekend series. Maine five different players score goals and fourteen players earn points in the win. Ben Bishop had 13 saves and Dave Wilson had 12 saves in the in. The Black Bears are now 21-10-2 overall and 14-10-1 in Hockey East while Merrimack is 3-25-4 overall and 3-20-2 in conference play.
The Black Bears went on the power play just 1:37 into the game, but could not get a shot on net. On Maine's second power play opportunity, Mike Hamilton (Victoria, British Columbia) had a shot hit the crossbar. At 10:31, Merrimack took an early lead when Pat Kimball converted a feed from freshman Mike Vasikuo. The freshmen broke in 2-on-1 on Bishop and crossed just over the blue line before Vaskivuo hit Kimball at the right-side of the net for the goal. Maine responded at 12:12 when David de Kastrozza (Toms River, N.J.) fired a shot in from the left circle. Patrick Watson made the save, but the rebound was buried by Wes Clark (Oakville, Ontario). Vince Laise (Brampton, Ontario) also had an assist on the goal. Maine took the lead when Billy Ryan (Milton, Mass.) took the puck across the top of the zone and found Simon Danis-Pepin (Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec) at the top of the left circle. He scored on the shot, his second goal of the season. Keith Johnson (Windsor, Conn.) had the second assist on the goal at 17:07. At the end of the period, Merrimack's Matt Jones was assessed a five minute major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct, while Maine picked up a two-minute hitting after the whistle penalty.
In the second period, after starting the first two minutes four-on-four, Maine went on a three-minute power play. At 3:05, Mike Hamilton scored with assists from Keenan Hopson (Prince George, British Columbia) and Rob Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.). Still on the advantage, Brent Shepheard (Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia) scored with assists from Josh Soares (Hamilton, Ontario) and Michel LÚveillÚ (Levis, Quebec) at 3:47. The penalty expired with out another goal by the Black Bears, but they had built a 4-1 lead. Merrimack's John Goebel had a break-away chance saved by Ben Bishop at 8:51 in the second period. The Warrior's had their first power play chance of the night beginning at the 12:58 mark of the second period and generated one shot. Maine was able to take a 5-1 lead when Bret Tyler (Maynard, Mass.) fired a one-timer at 16:51. He was assisted on the goal by Michel LÚveillÚ and Travis Ramsey (Lakewood, Calif.). With 43 seconds left in the second period, Ben Bishop (Des Peres, Mo.) left the game with an injury. He was replaced by Dave Wilson (Toronto, Ontario). The first shot Wilson faced was a clean break-away by Matt Byrnes that he saved with just ten seconds to go in the period. After two, Maine had a 19 to 15 lead on shots.
Merrimack had some early chances in the third period, including a break-away by Mike Vaskivuo that Wilson was able to get a pad on. The Warriors outshot the Black Bears eleven to ten in the final period, including a flurry of shots with under two minutes to play, but Maine held on for the 5-1 win.
In goal, Maine's Ben Bishop had one goal against and 13 saves, while Dave Wilson did not allow a goal on 12 shots. For Merrimack, Patrick Watson had five goals against and 24 saves. Maine had seven penalties for 14 minutes and Merrimack had ten penalties for 31 minutes. On power plays, Maine was 2-9 and Merrimack was 0-4. For the game, Maine led 29 to 26 on shots.
After Saturday night's Hockey East games, Maine is fourth in the conference standing with 29 points. Massachusetts, who has 27 points, will play at Northeastern on Sunday. Vermont is currently fifth with 28 points. The game marked the final regular season home game for Keith Johnson, Mike Hamilton, Mike Lundin, Michel LÚveillÚ, Brent Shepheard and Josh Soares. They have posted a 102-43-14 record in their four seasons at Maine, including three trips to the NCAA Tournament, two Frozen Four Appearances and a Hockey East Tournament Championship.
Maine will wrap-up the regular season with a two-game series at Massachusetts on March 2 and 3. For more information on University of Maine athletics, visit www.GoBlackBears.com or call 581-BEAR.