DURHAM, N.H. — New Hampshire and Maine may not be making a lot of noise in college hockey these days, but when they get together, it does get loud.

UNH, buoyed by a boisterous, soldout Whittemore Center crowd of 6,501, skated by the Black Bears 5-1 on Friday night.

Maine took a 1-0 first-period lead but then folded, giving up two power-play goals in the second – cashing in on four Maine penalties – and three even-strength scores in the third.

“We started off well and then the penalties,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said. “We’ve got to be a lot smarter than that. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that UNH had a 20 percent power play (20 of 94), and it might be wise not to take penalties against them unnecessarily.”

The Black Bears still haven’t won a game out of their home state and dropped to 5-8-3, 1-5-1 in Hockey East. UNH is 7-6-2, 4-1-1 – although all of those wins have come against low teams in the league standings.

“Us and Maine have both been a little quiet the last couple of years,” UNH Coach Dick Umile said. “You forget the records when you play this game. This is as good a crowd as we’ve had of late.”

Tyler Kelleher scored both power-play goals and added an assist. There are better opponents in Hockey East but Kelleher, a senior, couldn’t wait for the Black Bears.

“When the schedule comes out in the summer, these are the first games you look for,” Kelleher said. “This is the most exciting weekend of the year.”

The teams meet again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Orono.

“It will be crazy (Saturday) night,” Umile said.

It was crazy Friday, but Maine quieted the home crowd briefly, taking a 1-0 first-period lead on its first of two power plays.

Mitchell Fossier sent a puck in from the right circle. It deflected off a defenseman’s skate and went in at 13:08. Eric Schurhamer and Patrick Holway assisted. Fossier, a freshman, is tied for the team lead in goals with seven.

In the second period, the Wildcats took advantage of four Maine penalties to notch two goals by Kelleher. He has 27 points in 15 games.

“A couple of goals by a great player,” Gendron said.

At 5:21, Chase Pearson went off for interference. Kelleher plays one of the points on the power play. He skated to his right, into the high shot and fired through traffic, scoring at 6:23 for a 1-1 game.

At 14:28, Stephen Cochrane was called for interference. Kelleher showed how dangerous he is – and how incapable Maine was to stop him. Skating to his left along the red line with the puck on his backhand, Kelleher went by three Black Bears. He skated past Cam Brown at the red line, cut toward the left circle, passing Blaine Brown, then looped around Sam Becker at the bottom of the circle.

“Kind of just instinct,” Kelleher said. “I saw the defenseman was flat-footed, so I could get around him. The goalie tried to poke-check it and I got past him.”

Umile watched with awe.

“You just don’t teach that,” he said.

UNH broke it open in the third. The Wildcats outshot Maine only 28-24. UNH goalie Danny Tirone made 27 saves. Rob McGovern of Maine made 21 saves on 25 shots. Matt Morris replaced him and stopped 2 of 3 shots.

Saturday night’s game will be televised by Fox College Sports and WPME. Maine and UNH also will meet Dec. 30 in a nonconference game in Manchester, New Hampshire.


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