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ESTERO, Fla. -- The University of Maine men's ice hockey team skated to a 5-3 victory over eighth-ranked Clarkson on Friday night in the opening round of the Florida College Classic. The Black Bears improve to 6-7-2 on the season, while Clarkson falls to 10-6-0. The Black Bears will look to win their fourth Florida College Classic Championship and second in a row when they face UMass Lowell on Saturday night.
Maine opened the scoring with a power play goal at 12:35 of the first period. Simon Danis-Pepin (Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec) beat Clarkson goalie David Leggio with a shot from between the circles. Bret Tyler (Maynard, Mass.) and Keenan Hopson (Prince George, British Columbia) assisted on the first goal of the game.
Clarkson got on the board with a goal just 28 second into the second period by Nick Dodge.
Maine answered back with a goal by Andrew Sweetland (Bonavista, Newfoundland) just over three minutes later. Sweetland beat several defenders as he skated down the center of the ice and beat Leggio with an impressive move. Hopson assisted on the goal.
Rob Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) gave the Black Bears a 3-1 lead 11:33 into the second period when he scored his second of the season from Billy Ryan (Milton, Mass.).
Clarkson then scored a pair of goals by Michael Kosziwka and Mike Arciero to tie the game at 3-3.
Sweetland added his second of the night at 16:12 on the power play to give the Black Bears a lead that they would not relinquish. Ryan and Travis Ramsey (Lakewood, Calif.) teamed up in the defensive zone to find Sweetland who skated in and beat Leggio. For Sweetland, it was his fourth goal of the season.
Billy Ryan capped the scoring for the Black Bears when he scored an impressive goal at 16:00 of the third period. Ryan scored the goal from just in front of Leggio with one hand on the stick as he was falling to the ice. Tanner House (Cochrane, Alberta) assisted on the goal by Ryan.
Ben Bishop (Des Peres, Mo.) made 21 saves in goal as he improves to 6-7-2 on the season. Leggio made 32 saves for the Golden Knights and falls to 10-5-0.
Maine finished with a commanding 37-24 advantage in shots. The five goals tied the season-high for the Black Bears.
The Black Bears will face UMass Lowell in the championship game of the Florida College Classic on Saturday, December 29 at 7:35 p.m.