ORONO, Maine — After being outplayed for two periods by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers (N.Y.) on Saturday, the University of Maine’s hockey team was still within a goal entering the third period, thanks to the goaltending of sophomore Rob McGovern.
The Black Bears saved their best for the last period.
Goals by sophomore Danny Perez and freshmen Mitch Fossier and Chase Pearson rallied the Black Bears past RPI 4-2 at Alfond Arena to complete a sweep of the weekend series.
Maine had beaten RPI in a mutual season-opener 4-2 on Friday night.
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It is the first time Maine has opened the season with two wins since 2006-07.
“We came out slow and that’s not what we wanted to do,” said Maine workhorse sophomore defenseman Rob Michel. “We collected ourselves after the second period. The seniors came together and set us straight so we came out firing in the third period and took control of the game after that.
“It was good to see that we responded well,” added Michel.
“We got back to the game plan,” said left winger Perez. “The forwards played harder. We were chipping the pucks deep, hitting their defensemen and pressuring them. Our defensemen were getting their shots through (on goal).”
The Engineers capitalized on a pair of Black Bear turnovers to score shorthanded goals by Riley Bourbonnais and Drew Melanson in the first and second periods, respectively.
An even-strength score by Maine’s Blaine Byron had tied it in the first period.
Perez tied it 5:50 into the third period on a delayed penalty call.
Patrick Shea wristed the puck toward the net and Perez, parked at the top of the crease, directed it past the right skate of RPI goalie Chase Perry.
“I got in front of the net, Patrick Shea shot it toward the neet and I got a small piece of it. It wasn’t the prettiest goal but it got the job done and that’s all that matters,” said Perez.
Right winger Fossier scored his fourth goal of the weekend 3:41 later. Linemate Chase Pearson was hounding an RPI defenseman and he forced a turnover. The puck popped in the air and Fossier swatted it home from 12 feet out.
“It was a broken play,” said Fossier. “Chase did a great job on the forecheck and forced their defenseman into a bad position. The puck squirted up and I got my stick on it and chipped it past the goalie.”
McGovern preserved the lead by robbing Jimmy DeVito, who was camped out alone at the far post and got off a point-blank one-timer with two minutes left.
“They had been trying that play all night,” said McGovern. “I tried to block the pass but I missed it. Luckily, my momentum carried me over there and I got a piece of it. Then one of my defensemen cleared it out.”
Rob McGovern finished with 39 saves, including 14 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety, while RPI’s Chase Perry wound up with 37, 15 of which were Grade-A.
“(McGovern) kept us in the game,” said Perez. “If he didn’t play the way he did, it would have been a different outcome.”
“Credit to McGovern. He was very good. But we had some open nets off some rebounds in the first and the second periods and probably should have been up 3-1 or 4-1 entering the third period,” said RPI coach Seth Appert. “You keep it 2-1 and now it’s a different story.
“Full credit to Maine for finding a way to win it in the third,” added Appert.