Black Bears grab two crucial wins, Hockey East turns to fans for votes
Maine had a productive weekend with two vital wins over conference-leading New Hampshire.
The Black Bears improved to 14-9-3 on the season with the win and 11-6-2 in conference play. With a Massachusetts loss to Boston College, Maine moved into a tie with the Eagles for second place in the Hockey East.
Brian Flynn of the Black Bears scored a pair of goals in the 6-3 win Saturday night against the Wildcats. UNH had the game in control with a 2-0 lead going into the intermission courtesy of John Henrion and Stevie Moses, who each had first period goals. Maine responded in the second stanza with two goals within a minute of each other to knot up the game at two, with Flynn and Robby Dee both scoring off of rebounds. The Black Bears ended the period with another strike to the back of the net when Theo Anderson snuck a the puck by UNH goaltender Brian Foster to give Maine their first lead going into the third period.
Joey Diamond gave the Black Bears a two-goal advantage with a power-play goal, but New Hampshire quickly responded when Bobby Butler and Paul Thompson teamed up to find Phil DeSimone for his eighth goal of the season and cut the deficit to one. Flynn got his second goal on a breakaway, making the score 5-3, and an empty netter sealed the 6-3 victory.
Maine outshot UNH 40-30, while goaltender Scott Darling had an impressive game, stopping 27 shots. Foster made 34 saves in net. Maine returns to action this weekend against Boston University. New Hampshire will host Providence on Friday night.
Fan voting to play part
Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna announced last Wednesday that fans will be able to vote for the All-Decade team online. Voting, which is sponsored by Torpso Hockey, will be available until March 9 on the Hockey East website, www.hockeyeastonline.com.
Any player that competed in the conference from the 1999-2000 season to the 2008-2009 season is eligible to be voted for. The Hockey East All-Decade Team will be announced during the 26th Annual Hockey East Championship tournament at TD Garden in Boston on March 19-20. Fans also have the opportunity to vote for All-Decade teams for individual schools as well as their favorite Hockey East teams.
Third-period goals lift Warriors
Merrimack overcame UMass-Lowell with a 3-1 victory at Lawler Arena on Saturday night. Merrimack improved to 10-15-0 overall and 7-11-0 in conference play. Lowell, ranked 18th in the country, sits at 14-12-2 overall and 8-9-2 in Hockey East play. With the victory, the Warriors improved to 10-2 at home and defeated the River Hawks for the first time at Lawler Arena since Nov. 12, 2000, snapping a 13-game winless streak.
Chris Barton and Ryan Flanigan netted third period goals to clinch the victory, with both scores coming within a 60-second span of each other. Barton scored his 17th goal of the season and ninth in the last seven games. Flanigan scored a minute later sneaking the puck between the Lowell goaltender’s pads, while Stephane Da Costa assisted on both of them.
The River Hawks’ lone goal came in the second period, when David Vallorani recorded his ninth score of the season. The Warriors defense was the story in the final period, killing off seven power-plays. Goalkeeper Joe Cannata, making his first start since Jan. 22, saved 20 shots, including 11 in the third. Merrimack’s power-play, ranked second in the country, was mildly effective on the night going, 1-for-4 on the evening.
Merrimack will face a talented Vermont team for a double-header at the Gunderson Fieldhouse, while Lowell will face red-hot Boston College at Tsongas Arena at UMass Lowell on Friday.
Michael Counos can be reached at email@example.com.