ORONO — Sophomore forward Chris Bodo tallied his nation-leading seventh power-play goal of the year late in the third period Saturday night in front of 3,530 fans at Alfond Arena as the Mercyhurst men’s ice hockey team defeated Maine, 5-2.
Mercyhurst improved to 9-7-1 overall (7-3-0 in Atlantic Hockey) with the win. Maine fell to 5-12-2 overall (1-7-2 in Hockey East) with the loss.
Matthew Zay and Daniel O’Donaghue each picked up assists on the goal.
O’Donaghue worked the puck from the right point along the side boards to Zay in the lower right corner. As Zay turned to face the net, he fired a hard pass into the slot ,where a crashing Bodo knocked the pass into the back of the net with a one-time finish as Mercyhurst took a 3-2 lead.
“I just wanted to cut in at the net as hard as I could,” said Bodo. “I yelled for the pass. Zay made a perfect pass that came right to me and I went top left.”
“In the end, not scoring on a bunch of great scoring chances in the first period turned out to be the difference in this game,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “They surged back in the second and we surged back in the third.”
Maine out shot Mercyhurst by a 45 to 33 margin.
“I thought we played better last night than we did today,” Mercyhurst Head Coach Rick Gotkin said. “But, isn’t that hockey? It’s a funny game like that. Max Strang in net made the difference tonight. It could have been 4-0 in the first without him.”
Strang stopped 43 shots for the Lakers. Matt Morris turned away 28 for the Black Bears.
The Black Bears started the game strongly as Maine pinned Mercyhurst down in its own zone with a relentless forecheck anchored by strong physical play in the corners.
Maine’s pressure led to offensive chances early and often. Kyle Beattie ripped a shot off of the post at the 4:50 mark that propelled a surge from the Black Bears that resulted in a 1-0 lead.
Connor Leen provided the Black Bears with the early go-ahead goal at the 5:06 mark. He buried his fifth goal of the season on a rebound opportunity. Devin Shore and Brice O’Connor each picked up an assist on the play.
Shore possessed the puck just below the inner hash mark of the right faceoff circle and worked into the slot, where he slid the puck across the slot to a wide open O’Connor on the back side left post. O’Connor fired a shot into Strang’s pads. The puck squirted into the slot, where Leen waited and finished.
Maine continued to push the pace for the remainder of the period, but a late goal from the Lakers Paul Chiasson tied the game at 1 with just 14 seconds remaining in the first.
Grant Blakey and Daniel O’Donoghue each chipped in an assist on the goal.
The initial shot from O’Donoghue off an offensive rush by the Lakers kicked off Morris’ pads and into the corner to his right. Blakey quickly gathered the puck and snapped it into the slot without looking. The puck hit off of Chiasson and a Maine defender and bounced over Morris.
Each team headed into the second period in search of the go-ahead goal to shift the game’s momentum. The Lakers capitalized at the 16:20 mark of the second period, when O’Donoghue netted the goal that provided Mercyhurst with the lead. Chiasson and Blakey each tallied assists.
Chiasson gathered a pass from Blakey behind the net and waited for play to develop with little pressure from the Maine defense. Chiasson found O’Donaghue streaking into the slot from the right faceoff spot and hit him with a pass in stride. O’Donaghue carried into the crease and held the puck till Morris went down, firing over Morris’ right leg for the goal.
An early third-period power-play goal from Beattie, his second of the season, evened the game at the 4:21 mark. Cornell and Hutton assisted.
Working the power play along the left side of the blue line, Hutton moved the puck to the right point to Cornell, who fired a shot into the slot. Beattie redirected it into the back of the net.
Bodo’s goal at the 10:39 mark provided the Lakers with the 3-2 lead.
O’Donaghue added two empty-net goals to earn a hat trick on the evening and to seal the game for Mercyhurst.