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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Junior Ben Bishop recorded the fifth shutout of his career with 30 saves to lift Maine to a 3-0 victory against Vermont in front of a sellout crowd of 4,003 at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East action on Saturday night. The loss ended a five-game winning streak for the Catamounts, who dropped to 13-12-7 (12-8-5 HEA) with the loss. The Black Bears improved to 11-18-3 (7-15-3 HEA) with their third win in the last four games.
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"We fought the puck tonight; you look at any zone, neutral zone, or our zone, offensive zone, pucks just bounced off sticks," Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon said. "I don't think it was nerves; I just think we just had one of those games where we didn't have a lot of good puck luck or puck skill tonight."
Maine seniors Wes Clark and Billy Ryan both had a goal and an assist while Junior Chris Hahn scored a power-play goal in the third period. Senior Keenan Hopson had two assists for the Black Bears.
Despite the loss Vermont remained in a tie with Boston University for second place in Hockey East as the Terriers dropped a 5-1 decision at Massachusetts.
The win keeps Maine's Hockey East playoff hopes alive. They trail eighth place UMass by two points with two games left in the regular season.
Clark gave Maine a 1-0 lead 14:40 into the first period. He beat UVM senior goalie Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.) five-hole with a shot from the slot for his team leading 10th goal of the season.
The Black Bears took a two-goal cushion 4:03 into the second on a goal by Ryan from inside the left circle. Hopson and Hahn both assisted.
Hahn added a power-play goal with just over a minute left to clinch the 3-0 victory. Maine and Vermont split the regular season series 1-1-1.
The Black Bears out shot the Catamounts 33-30. Vermont went 0-for-3 on the power play while Maine was 1-for-3.
"We couldn't mount any sort of attack. They did a fantastic job all over the ice," Sneddon added. "But we're not going to dwell on it. We know we've got a tough weekend ahead of us going up against New Hampshire. We'll certainly take tonight to celebrate the seniors and get back to work on Monday."
Vermont honored its six seniors following tonight's game. Joe Fallon (Bemidji, Minn.), Jeff Hill (Cranston, R.I.), Mark Lutz (Stevens Point, Wis.), Slavomir Tomko (Zvolen, Slovakia), Reese Wisnowski (East Middlebury, Vt.) and Director of Hockey Operations Jonathan Bates (Celebration, Fla.) were all recognized.
The group has been part of one of the best four-year stretches in school history, winning a total of 70 games. The seniors will also be honored at the 2008 Rally Awards that will be held on Tuesday, May 6 at the Flynn Theatre in downtown Burlington starting at 7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public. The Rally Awards is an all-sports celebration highlighting the accomplishments of student-athletes at UVM.
Vermont returns to action with a two-game series at No. 2 New Hampshire next Friday (3/7) and Saturday (3/8). Friday's game starts at 8pm and will be televised on CSTV. Saturday's game starts at 7pm and will be televised on New Hampshire Public Television.
NOTES: Tonight's game was televised on NESN ... NESN will replay the game on March 6 at 1:30pm ... Jeff Hill played the final 30 seconds in goal for Vermont ... Slavomir Tomko had a team-high five shots ... Vermont is 7-6-4 at home this season ... The Catamounts are 3-10-3 when their opponent scores first.