The lone New England teams in action on Friday night went head-to-head as Maine continued its home dominance at Alfond Arena in a 7-1 victory over American International.
Sophomore Devin Shore had a goal and four assists to the lead the Black Bears (8-6-1) in the first of two games against AIC (3-11-0), which closes out their pre-Christmas schedule. Shore now has at least one point in his last six games.
The victory was Maine's fourth in a row and eighth in nine games on home ice this season. Following Saturday night's series finale with the Yellow Jackets, Maine will play its first seven contests of the second half on the road or in neutral sites, beginning with two at the Florida College Classic, Dec. 28-29.
After AIC rookie netminder Hunter Leisner made some very strong saves in the opening five minutes or so, the Black Bears went to work and scored three times over the final 12 minutes of the first period. Shore posted an assist on each goal.
Sophomore Steven Swavely was first on the board for Maine as he lifted a loose puck into the back of Leisner's net 8:01 into the game for his fifth goal of the season. Freshman Dan Renouf scored his first goal in a Black Bear uniform in a big way, ripping the eventual game-winner from the blue line about seven minutes later. Fellow freshman Eric Schurhamer, who assisted on Renouf's goal with Shore, made it a three-goal lead with 38 seconds remaining in the first.
Shore made it four points on as many goals at 6:46 of the second, taking advantage of Leisner's poor rebound control in front for an easy tap-in. The goal was Maine's second of the season on a 3-on-5 shorthanded play.
The visitors finally solved Maine senior Martin Ouellette three ticks past the midway mark of regulation as Dan Clairmont picked a big rebound off the goaltender's pads and put it home to make the score 4-1.
Maine closed the contest off with another trio of goals in the third, including a second man-down goal at the 8:05 mark. Swavely notched his third point of the night, setting up veteran Mark Anthoine (Lewiston, Maine) for a quick 2-on-1 rush goal. Juniors Connor Leen and Stu Higgins also found the back of the net over the final 20 minutes for the hosts.
Ouellette earned his eighth victory of the year with 20 saves on 21 AIC shots. Leisner made 48 stops over 54:15, but the Yellow Jackets' worst-in-the-nation defense (5.14 goals allowed per game) struggled once again.
AIC has dropped eight straight and allowed more than six goals on four different occasions this year. Neither of its leading scorers, junior Alexander MacMillan and senior Jon Puskar, found the scoresheet in the game.
Some other notables to munch on before the rest of this weekend's action:
Bentley (7-7-1) and Boston University (7-7-2) will meet for the first time ever on Saturday night at Agganis Arena. After last weekend's two-game sweep of Robert Morris, the Falcons enter BU with a 5-0-1 record in their last six games, marking the fourth-longest unbeaten streak in the country.
Bentley junior Steve Weinstein leads all Division I defensemen with 19 assists and 20 total points. Classmate Alex Grieve ranks fourth nationally with 0.81 goals per game, leading the team with 12 and 20 points.
Vermont, which is currently in the midst of its first four-game winning streak since the 2009-10 holiday break following back-to-back sweeps of UMass and Maine, hosts St. Lawrence at the Gutterson Fieldhouse. SLU is Vermont's second-longest rival behind New Hampshire as the former ECAC foes will meet in Burlington for their 88th meeting.
UMass heads to Hamilton, N.Y., for games Saturday and Sunday at Colgate. Senior Branden Gracel scored in each of the Minutemen's games at Notre Dame last weekend and led an all-senior attack in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Irish.