ORONO — It has been 32 years since a Maine men’s hockey team has been in such a free fall at the outset of a season.

So it’s understandable that Coach Red Gendron sounded like a grade-school teacher Saturday. He knows his Black Bears need to learn the basics of their sport before they graduate to Hockey East play.

Maine came unglued in the second period of a 5-2 loss to No. 2 Union before an announced crowd of 4,657 at Alfond Arena. The Black Bears are 0-4 for the first time since 1982-83, when the team lost its initial 14 games.

“The first finger of blame goes to me. That’s just how it is,” Gendron said as an attempt to deflect attention from his team.

After Union scored in the opening minute thanks to a Maine defensive breakdown, the Black Bears fought to even the score, finally doing so 3:57 into the second period. Cam Brown slapped the puck off the arm of Union goaltender Colin Stevens and into the net to record Maine’s first power-play goal of the season, and its first goal in its two home games.

What followed was a series of mental breakdowns, penalties, a pulled goalie and an ugly spearing infraction that left one Black Bear banished to the locker room. Union scored three times in a seven-minute stretch of the second period to take control, extending its unbeaten streak to 21 games. The Dutchmen won Friday’s game at Alfond, 3-0.


Michael Pontarelli started the onslaught, working in front to score at 5:48 of the second while Maine freshman Malcolm Hayes was in the penalty box for goaltender interference.

“That’s what we told the boys, ‘we need to take that puck hard to the net because that’s what they’re doing to us,’ ” Union Coach Rick Bennett said.

Ryan Scarfo scored on a wrist shot at 7:29, and Gendron removed goalie Sean Romeo for Matt Morris. Maine assistant captain Jake Rutt promptly took a penalty for a hard check after the whistle. Maine killed that one.

Union’s Daniel Ciampini redirected a pass for a goal at 12:47 to make it 4-1. Maine freshman Nolan Vesey speared Union’s Sam Coatta seconds later, sending him crumpling to the ice. Vesey was assessed a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct.

“What Nolan Vesey did is absolutely unacceptable. He stuck the kid and that can’t happen,” Gendron said.

Vesey could be suspended from Friday’s home game against Alaska-Anchorage after Hockey East reviews the play. Gendron indicated he may keep Vesey out even if the league doesn’t act.


From there the game devolved into a series of rough-and-tumble scrums. Ten more penalties were assessed and each team scored a third-period goal. Maine’s came courtesy of Brown again.

Gendron came across as more calm than exasperated, but sounded like someone lecturing a peewee squad.

“Learning to win means you have absolute discipline in your system. You have precision in the execution of your fundamental skills,” he said. “When a guy is open then you give him the puck. You don’t look him off. You don’t try to find something better. The game is 60 minutes. You have to let it come to you.

“We have learned how to compete but we have not learned how to win.”

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