MANCHESTER, N.H. – Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) stopped 22 of 23 shots in goal for the 11th-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s ice hockey team, but University of Maine netminder Scott Darling turned aside all 31 shots he faced to backbone the Black Bears to a 1-0 victory Saturday night in Hockey East action at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
UNH, which had won six straight vs. Maine, is now 13-9-4 overall and 9-7-3 in Hockey East. The Black Bears are 12-13-3, 7-10-2.
Chris Hahn scored what proved to be the only goal of the game when he gave Maine a 1-0 lead with an unassisted shorthanded breakaway goal 43 seconds into the second stanza. Hahn carried the puck along the left wing through the neutral zone, cut across the low slot and tucked a shot into the net at the right post.
In the fifth minute, UNH’s Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) whistled a shot from the slot wide right of the net. Moments later UNH went on the power play, but the Black Bears generated a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush in which Brett Carriere’s shot from the left circle ricocheted off Foster and the right post.
The Wildcats sustained pressure deep in the offensive zone and tic-tac-toe passing by LeBlanc and Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) set up Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) in the low slot, but his quick release was stopped by Darling in the ninth minute.
New Hampshire went on its fifth power play of the night at 9:33, and in the closing seconds of that skater advantage Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) was foiled by Darling at the doorstep.
With four minutes remaining in the second period, UNH maintained pressure after winning control off the faceoff. The initial shot from the right side by Danny Dries (Lake Orion, Mich.) was blocked, but the puck caromed to the low slot and Darling slid to the top of the crease to foil Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.).
In the opening minute of the third period, a UNH turnover in the defensive zone gave possession to Spencer Abbott in the slot, but Foster made a kick save with his left leg pad.
The Wildcat trio of LeBlanc, Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) and Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) generated a dangerous rush in the eighth minute. LeBlanc advanced the puck from the neutral zone to Thompson at the right point. He quickly angled a pass down lot to Collins, but Darling denied that bid.
UNH went on its sixth power play at 7:47 and Darling stopped strong scoring chances by Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) and Dries. The ‘Cats had another extra skater advantage beginning at 10:27, but the UM penalty kill unit kept New Hampshire on the perimeter and effectively stepped into passing lanes.
In the 14th minute, a UNH rush generated another LeBlanc shot in the slot, but once again Darling made the save.
Foster did his part to keep the deficit at 1-0 in the 16th minute when he turned aside Nick Payson, who had corralled a loose puck in the neutral zone and cut through the left circle.
UNH pulled Foster in favor of an extra skater with 37 seconds to play and, following an icing against Maine, the teams called consecutive timeouts with 28 seconds to play.
The Black Bears iced the puck once again with 21 seconds on the clock, but UNH was limited to a blocked shot and one shot wide the rest of the way.
Maine generated an 11-9 shot advantage in the scoreless first period, and the Black Bears had a handful of dangerous scoring opportunities during three power plays. In the fourth minute, Tanner House’s redirection in the slot caromed off the left post across goal mouth before a sprawling Foster covered the puck near the right post.
In the 12th minute, Foster made a left leg-pad save to deny Abbott’s shot from the left circle and then he turned aside Robby Dee’s bid off the rebound at the right doorstep.
New Hampshire returns to action at home Feb. 13 (7 p.m.) against Providence College.