ORONO — The Maine hockey team was so happy with its performance Friday that it decided a sequel was in order.

The Black Bears were stingy on defense, dominated play at even strength and finished off a sweep of Canisius on Saturday with a 3-1 win before an announced crowd of 3,910 at Alfond Arena.

Coupled with a 4-1 victory Friday, it gave Maine its first back-to-back wins in two months.

“It never felt like they had too much going on,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said of Canisius (6-8-5). “Five-on-five, we were dominant all weekend.”

Maine (6-13-1) got a power-play goal from Blaine Byron at 15:40 of the first period, his team-leading ninth score of the season. But freshman Malcolm Hayes was called for holding a minute later and the Golden Griffins took advantage to tie the score.

The tie lasted only 48 seconds, thanks to rugged back-checking by Devin Shore that resulted in a Canisius turnover. He got the puck to Connor Leen, who fanned on a shot attempt in the right circle. But the puck hopped to Will Merchant and he surprised Canisius goaltender Reilly Turner by firing a quick shot between his legs that proved to be the winner.


“We had the game totally in control and then we took an absolutely stupid penalty,” Gendron said. “And then they score a goal. Devin Shore back-pressured the puck in a big way and got them to turn it over. (Merchant) just brought it to his forehand and wired it. It was a great goal.”

It was the second goal of the season for Merchant, who deadpanned:

“It was a great fakeout by (Leen). Even better work by Devin, though. I was lucky it popped on my stick. I’ve been kind of just working on getting pucks on net quick. … It’s always good to get the momentum back with a quick goal like that and I think it lifted the team up.”

The Black Bears were outstanding in the second period, outshooting Canisius 17-6. But their lone goal came when freshman Nolan Vesey skated in two-on-one with Steven Swavely, used him as a decoy and blasted the puck off Turner and into the net. It was his fourth goal in the past five games.

Maine goaltender Sean Romeo, who had struggled in Saturday games, was tested with a pair of third-period penalty kills but made 25 saves for the game to run his record to 4-9. It was his best consecutive outings of the season but he didn’t feel like he did anything special.

“I really don’t think it was me, to be honest,” said Romeo, a freshman. “I think it was our ‘D’ zone coverage. I didn’t have to do a whole lot back there and when I did, they cleared rebounds and made it easy for me to see.”


Canisius Coach Dave Smith never pulled Turner in the final minutes despite opportunities.

“We didn’t sustain enough and get the second power-play goal to get us within one to give us a chance to pull the goalie,” he said after his team hit 0-9-2 all-time against Hockey East foes.

Maine last won back-to-back games on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 against Massachusetts. It plays next weekend at UMass.

Merchant said the team will look to repeat the formula, based on work in practice and a concentration on its own zone.

“We were playing physical and very well defensively, which we’ve been working hard on,” he said. “And that’s what we need to keep working toward.”

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