ESTERO, Fla. - The University of Maine men's ice hockey team downed Western Michigan 8-4 in the first game of the Florida College Classic at Germain Arena on Friday afternoon. Wes Clark and Bret Tyler each had two goals for the Black Bears as Maine scored five power play goals. The Black Bears are now 11-3-2 on the season and 5-3-1 in Hockey East while Western Michigan is 6-9-1 overall. Maine will play Cornell in the championship game on Saturday at 7:35 pm.
In the first period, Western Michigan had the first power play chance of the night, but it was soon four-on-four with a Bronco penalty. Maine was able to get on the board first when Billy Ryan (Milton, Mass.) scored with assists from Mike Lundin (Apple Valley, Minn.) and Mike Hamilton (Victoria, British Columbia) at 1:45. A second Western Michigan penalty gave the Black Bears a 13 second five-on-three, but were unable to score on the advantage. At the five minute mark in the period, Western Michigan's Matt Clackson went in on a loose puck with Ben Bishop (Des Peres, Mo.) behind the net, but Mike Lundin made a save and cleared the puck from the zone. The Broncos tied the game with a rebound goal by Jeff Pierce, who was assisted by Ryan Mahrle and Mark Letestu at 6:54.
With the Black Bears on the power play for the third time in the first period, Keith Johnson (Windsor, Conn.) buried the puck from just inside the right circle. He was assisted on the goal at 8:14 by Teddy Purcell (St. John's, Newfoundland) and Brent Shepheard (Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia). Western Michigan had a two-on-one chance less than 30 seconds later, but the shot by Chris Clackson was saved by Ben Bishop. The Broncos tied the game with a goal by Jeff Lovecchio at 14:41 with assists from Matt Clackson and Chris Clackson. It did not take long for the Black Bears to once again regain the lead when Wes Clark (Oakville, Ont.) went in and from an almost impossible angle fired the puck shortside for the goal. He was assisted at 15:46 by Vince Laise (Brampton, Ontario) and Chris Hahn (Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan). It marked Laise's first career point. At the end of the first, Maine had a 13 to seven lead on shots.
In the second period, Wes Clark had a break-away chance that was saved at the four minute mark. The Broncos tied the game for the third time in the game when Brian Bicek scored with assists from Chris Frank and Jeff Pierce at 11:14. The Black Bears had two more power play chances in the second period, but despite strong scoring chances could not break the tie. Maine had a 13 to twelve edge on shots in the second period.
The Black Bears broke the game open in the third period. Wes Clark started things off with his second goal of the night at 4:32 with assists from Chris Hahn and Vince Laise. The goal originally was waived off, however after replay the goal was allowed. Bret Tyler (Maynard, Mass.) scored a five-on-three power play goal at 6:52 with assists from Keenan Hopson (Prince George, British Columbia) and Keith Johnson. Bret Tyler added a second power play goal at 8:29 when he scored with assists from Billy Ryan and Josh Soares (Hamilton, Ontario). The Broncos added a power play goal for themselves at 10:16 from Mark Letestu. Maine responded at 11:41 when Bret Tyler fired a shot from the point on the power play that was tipped in by Mike Hamilton. Keenan Hopson also had an assist on the fifth power play goal of the night for Maine. The scoring for the evening concluded with a goal by Teddy Purcell at 18:05 with assists from Michel LÚveillÚ (Levis, Quebec) and Josh Soares.
In goal, Maine's Ben Bishop had four goals against and 26 saves. For Western Michigan, Riley Gill had eight goal against and 35 saves. Maine had 10 penalties for 28 minutes and Western Michigan had 15 penalties for 30 minutes. On power plays, Maine was 5-10 and Western Michigan was 1-3. For the game, Maine outshot the Broncos 43-30.
The Black Bears will face Cornell in the second game at the Florida College Classic on December 30 at 7:30 pm. Following a road trip to UMass Lowell, the Black Bears return home on January 12 and 13 to host Boston University. For tickets or more information on University of Maine athletics, visit www.GoBlackBears.com or call 581-BEAR.