ORONO — In the weeks leading to the start of the college hockey season, University of Maine Coach Red Gendron touted his freshman class, expecting the youngsters to give the Black Bears program a much-needed boost.

Turns out, the hype is for real … at least for one game.

Freshmen accounted for all of Maine’s goals, including a hat trick by Mitchell Fossier, to lead the Black Bears to a 5-1 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Friday night in the season opener at Alfond Arena.

Freshmen Patrick Shea and Chase Pearson also scored for Maine.

Fossier hails from that hockey hotbed, Alpharetta, Georgia, about 25 miles north of Atlanta. But he also played junior hockey in Sioux City, Iowa. Now he’s in Orono, with one game down, and three goals.

“Obviously it’s super fun,” Fossier said. “Coming into the first game, you never really know what to expect. It’s probably typical to say, but a lot of my personal success is due to the guys around me, making really good plays.


“I found myself in the right place at the right time.”

Nolan Vesey, a grizzled old junior, had three assists, two of them for Fossier. The two are linemates, along with Pearson. Six freshmen skated for Maine on Friday.

“It’s good to have them,” Vesey said. “They fit in right away with the guys on our team, and obviously they can play.”

Goalie Rob McGovern, a sophomore, made 29 saves for the Black Bears. Maine outshot the Engineers 36-30, including a 16-8 edge in the first period. The Black Bears were flying early, eager to put their eight-win 2015-16 season behind them.

“I thought they were fantastic, similar to what I expected,” RPI Coach Seth Appert said. His own team had a bounce-back season last year after a poor 2014-15. He figured Maine would be motivated.

“I know how good of a coach Red is and how storied of a program this is. I expected a real spirited, passionate effort from them and they gave it.


“Our guys weren’t able to answer that.”

Appert was impressed with Maine’s freshmen, “but I do think their older guys, like (seniors) Cam Brown and Blaine Byron set a tone. They played real intense and hard.”

Maine began last year winless in its first 12 games. Not this season.

“We knew had to come out and create our own energy,” Vesey said.

Maine took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Shea (6:06) and a lunging rebound effort by Fossier (7:32). For all of Maine’s dominance, McGovern stopped two breakaways to keep that lead.

“Our goalie made some big saves,” Gendron said.


The saves kept coming in the second period when Maine was on the penalty kill four times.

“A lot of sloppiness on our part,” said Gendron, who watched RPI go on the power play nine times. “Fortunately, the penalty kill was very good.”

Fossier made it 3-0 at 7:30 in the second. Byron won a face-off back to Eric Schurhamer, who sent the puck in. Fossier buried it.

RPI got on the board in the third period with a power play goal, but that only closed it to 4-1. And Fossier finished the scoring at 4:45, on a give-and-go with Vesey.

Maine is looking good – so far.

“It’s one game” Gendron said. “It’s a good win for the University of Maine Black Bears. (Saturday) is a brand new day.”

The two teams meet again Saturday at 7 p.m.

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