BURLINGTON, Vt. - Maine's top line of Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn, and Joey Diamond combined for nine points and the Black Bears skated past Vermont 5-2 on Saturday night in Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse. Maine sweeps the weekend series and improves to 6-6-2 (5-5-1 HEA), while the Catamounts fall to 3-10-1 (1-8-1 HEA) on the year.
"I think Maine did a lot of the little things that we did (Friday) night like winning puck battles and playing tough in their own zone," said head coach Kevin Sneddon. "We had a lot of puck possession but we didn't have a lot of great looks like we did Friday. I have to tip my hat to Maine, I thought they played a lot hungrier than we did and I just told our guys we can't expect to make that many mistakes in a hockey game and have any sort of success."
Connor Brickley was called for charging nine and a half minutes into the first period, and Maine capitalized on the ensuing power play to take a 1-0 lead. Abbott fed Matt Mangene with a pass in the right faceoff circle, and Mangene whipped a shot toward the left post. Diamond was open at the doorstep to redirect the shot past John Vazzano to open the scoring at 10:30.
The Catamounts were inches away from tying the contest four minutes later as Brett Bruneteau rung a wrist shot off the left post past Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan. The puck caromed out to Will O'Neill, and he sprung Diamond on a 2-on-1 with Abbott the other way. Diamond cut into the low slot and elected to shoot as he slipped the puck past the left pad of Vazzano to give Maine a 2-0 advantage.
At 6:44 of the second period, the Black Bears added to their lead after an extended scrum in from of Vazzano. Maine centered the puck to the top of the crease for several chances that were stopped by the senior netminder. The third rebound came out to Abbott and he tipped the puck over Vazzano's right shoulder to put the Black Bears up by three.
Maine made it a 4-0 game seven minutes later as O'Neill sent a stretch pass down the middle of the rink to an open Abbott, who had just stepped onto the ice from the bench. Abbott came in alone on goal, deked to his backhand, and roofed a shot over Vazzano's right pad to stretch the lead. The Black Bears added their fifth tally early in the third period on a power play tally from Mangene, with the assists to Flynn and Abbott.
Vermont got on the scoreboard at 5:45 of the final frame after Brett Leonard was called for a tripping minor. Nine seconds into Maine's power play, Brickley threw a weak angle shot toward Sullivan and the momentum took the sophomore into the net. Brickley netted Vermont's second shorthanded goal of the season, with the lone assist credited to Brett Bruneteau. The junior forward added a second tally for the Catamounts with 27 seconds left in regulation to make it a 5-2 game.
"We just had way too many defensive mistakes tonight, whether it's giving Abbott a breakaway or not executing," said Sneddon. "It's just one of those nights unfortunately. It sums it up when we come down the ice, we ring as hard a shot as I've ever seen off the goal post and they end up going the other way off the deflection and get a 2-on-1. That's a tough pill to swallow, but we didn't deserve it tonight and Maine did."
The Catamounts return to action on Wednesday (Dec. 7) for their final Hockey East game of the 2011 calendar year as they take on No. 1 Merrimack at Lawler Arena with a 7 p.m. faceoff. The Warriors were swept by Providence this weekend in a home-and-home series for their first two losses of the season. Alastair Ingram has the call from North Andover, Mass. on WVMT 620-AM and online at SportsJuice.com, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:30 p.m.
NOTES: Check back to UVMathletics.com for CatamounTV highlights ... Senior goaltender John Vazzano made his first career start between the pipes for the Catamounts and made 22 saves ... UVM has outshot six of its last seven opponents, as they won the shot battle 31-27 over Maine ... Vermont outshot Maine 12-6 in the first period ... Saturday night served as the final contest of a five-game homestand for Vermont ... Brett Bruneteau now has six points in his last four games ... Connor Brickley leads the team in goals this year with eight and has recorded a tally in four straight contests ... The Catamounts entered the night as the least penalized team in Hockey East.