ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The University of Maine men's ice hockey team defeated St. Cloud State 4-1 in the first round of the NCAA East Regional on Friday at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. Maine scored three goals in the first period and Ben Bishop made 33 saves in his return to action. Brent Shepheard, Billy Ryan, Michel LÚveillÚ and Rob Bellamy scored goals for Maine. The Black Bears are now 22-14-2 overall while St. Cloud State is 22-11-7. Maine will play Massachusetts in the Regional Final on Saturday night.
The Black Bears had control of play early, but it was the Huskies who had the first two shots on net. On the second shot, Justin Fletcher took a shot from the left circle that got through Ben Bishop's pads at 3:39. Maine had the first power play of the game and did not waste the chance. Brent Shepheard (Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia) controlled the puck in the right corner, brought it in front and fired a shot that deflected into the net off a St. Cloud State skate at 7:21 in the first period. Shepheard was assisted by Michel LÚveillÚ (Levis, Quebec) and Teddy Purcell (St. John's, Newfoundland) on the goal. The Black Bears took the lead at 8:11 when Billy Ryan (Milton, Mass.) scored from the left side of the net top shelf. Teddy Purcell and Mike Hamilton (Victoria, British Columbia) set up the goal. Maine then took back-to-back penalties, giving the Huskies a 1:18 five-on-three. Maine came up strong with saves by Ben Bishop and were able to kill the advantage. Maine's second power play of the night was also successful when Michel LÚveillÚ fired a shot from the point for a goal at 14:08. He was assisted by Mike Lundin (Apple Valley, Minn.) and Teddy Purcell on the power play goal. Maine was outshot nine to seven in the first period.
The Huskies began the second period with 1:04 of a power play, but the Black Bears were able to kill the advantage. Maine's Billy Ryan had a strong shots saved six minutes into play by Bobby Goepfert. St. Cloud State had a fourth power play of the game starting at 6:20, but Ben Bishop made two big saves, including a glove save of Andreas Nodl, to end the advantage. Billy Ryan hit the left post with under four minutes to play. Maine was able to take a 4-1 lead at 17:08 when Rob Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) buried a rebound of a Brent Shepheard (Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia) shot for his first goal this season. David de Kastrozza (Toms River, N.J. ) also had an assist on the goal for the Black Bears. Teddy Purcell had a shot saved with under two minutes to go in the period. Both teams had nine shots in the second period.
The third period also began with the Huskies on the power play for the sixth time in the game, but once again the Black Bears were able to kill the advantage. Maine's Mike Hamilton went in alone at the three minute mark of the third, but his shot was saved. After five straight St. Cloud power plays, Maine had back-to-back power play opportunities starting at the 10:50 mark, but were unable to convert either one. The Black Bears were able to withstand a flurry of shots by the Huskies in the last two minutes of the game, much of it with an empty net, and hold on to the 4-1 final.
In goal, Maine's Ben Bishop had one goal against and 33 saves. For St. Cloud State, Bobby Goepfert had four goals against and 17 saves. Maine had eleven penalties for 22 minutes and St. Cloud State had seven penalties for fourteen minutes. On power plays, Maine was 2-5 and St. Cloud State was 0-9. For the game, Maine was outshot by St. Cloud State 34 to 21.
The Black Bears will play on Saturday at 6:00 pm against Massachusetts, who defeated Clarkson 1-0 in overtime on Friday afternoon. The game will mark the fifth time the two teams have met in the last 21 days, with Massachusetts winning the last four meetings. It will mark the second consecutive year Maine has played in the East Regional final.
The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU and locally in the state of Maine on WABI-TV 5 (Bangor), WPFO-TV 23 (Portland ) and WAGM-TV 8 (Presque Isle). For more information on University of Maine athletics, visit www.GoBlackBears.com or call 581-BEAR.