ORONO — If you’re going to get into a street fight with the defending national champion hockey team, you’d better not keep falling behind.

That was the harsh lesson Maine learned Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to No. 6 Providence College before an announced crowd of 4,090 at Alfond Arena.

The Black Bears, bruised Friday by a 1-0 overtime loss to the Friars, came out with a great deal of pep and forged a 2-2 tie after one period. But once Providence took the lead on a Brian Pinho goal in the second period, its experience took hold and Maine couldn’t get the momentum back.

“I think the biggest thing is we just kind of let the energy drain from our bench and drain a little bit from our team, and it kind of caused us to go back on our heels a little bit,” said defenseman Eric Schurhamer, who scored Maine’s first goal on a seeing-eye backhander from the blue line that went through four players near the crease and seemed to catch Providence goaltender Nick Ellis by surprise.

Schurhamer’s goal gave the Black Bears (7-17-6, 4-10-2 Hockey East) a 1-1 tie. Providence went ahead at 16:17, but Maine freshman Brendan Robbins answered 42 seconds later, picking up a loose puck and beating Ellis at close range with a backhander that made it 2-2.

Maine, which managed a season-low 19 shots on goal Friday, had 13 in the opening period Saturday and 34 for the game. But the Black Bears never got one past Ellis again.

Ellis stopped Robbins and Andrew Tegeler on breakaways to earn his 18th victory of the season.

“He made some key saves that could have been momentum changers,” Robbins said. “Obviously when you’re in alone you’ve got a good chance to score. Unfortunately, (Tegeler) didn’t quite get the puck up high enough and I kind of had that one roll off my backhand. I thought I had him beat.”

In the second period, Nick Saracino found Pinho uncovered to the left of the crease and he had plenty of time to line up a shot and blast it by Maine goaltender Matt Morris on the short side.

The Friars (19-5-4, 10-3-3) haven’t lost when leading after two periods this year, and were able to make that advantage hold up as well. Trevor Mingoia added a clinching goal at 4:04 of the third period after a Black Bears turnover.

“I thought in the first period we were reaching for pucks and they were moving their feet to get pucks and using their body. They were coming back with a lot of speed when we were turning pucks over in some bad areas,” Friars Coach Nate Leaman said. “After we were up 4-2 we shut it down pretty well. We got some good grind time in there.”

The result was Maine being swept for the fifth time this winter. But the Black Bears competed hard in both games this weekend, which marked a step forward.

Coach Red Gendron called the two game set a street fight. He was happy to see his team go toe-to-toe with the defending champs for most of the six periods.

“We were chipping the puck by them and going down and finishing checks and stealing the puck and making things happen,” Gendron said.

“Players just got after one another, finishing checks, playing hard, battling for the puck. Outside of the outcome, it was a great series.”


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