Auburn, ME – A slow start would doom the Central Maine Community College hockey team on Sunday afternoon as they returned to action in their first game after the Thanksgiving break, falling behind 3-0 just 9:57 into the first period en route to a 5-2 loss to the visiting Suffolk Rams.
The Mustangs had a bright start to the game, with Jordy Knoren generating chances on the very first shift of the contest. Suffolk goaltender Kenny Uminski was equal to the test, setting the stage for the Rams to break the ice first. With just one second remaining in a Sean Coleman slashing penalty, Jeff Cowles would slip a wrist shot from the side boards past Central Maine goaltender Jacob Strout. Mike Piccini received an assist on the play.
The Rams would tally again on the power play just a few moments later with Pat Pearson serving a slashing penalty. Winger Jack Stafford fired shot from the blue line that evaded Strout and doubled the visitors advantage. Cam Roach and Spencer Weeks added assists on the play.
Stafford would waste no time in doubling his goal total for the evening. Just 27 seconds after his power play tally, Stafford would jam a loose puck home in front to put the Rams in front by a 3-0 count. Weeks and linemate Ryan Porter received assists on the play. Immediately following the goal Mustangs coach Matt Buotte would lift Strout from the game and use the teams only timeout. Strout stopped 5 of 8 in his second consecutive start.
"It wasn't Jacob's fault tonight," said Buotte afterward. "We get down in a 3-0 hole ten minutes in. There's really only two things you can do in that situation to try to change the tide—call a timeout or pull your goalie. I thought we'd try both and see if we could jolt the team to life. Our start was unacceptable tonight and it cost us a huge game."
Anthony Tilelli relieved Strout in net and would stop all three shots he faced to end the first. The Rams would turn the screw at the beginning of the second, however, with Mike Piccini notching his second point of the game. Piccini scooped up a loose puck that Tilelli thought he had covered and poked it home for an unassisted marker to bring the Suffolk lead to 4-0.
With 10:30 remaining in the second Bryce Jacob would get in on the act, converting a Jack Stafford feed to capitalize on another Central Maine penalty. With Zac Brown in the box for tripping, the Rams would win an offensive zone faceoff, with Jacob firing from the point and beating Tilelli to stretch the Suffolk advantage to 5-0.
Central Maine would claw one back before the end of the second, with Beau Armstrong stuffing home a wraparound on the power play to cut the advantage to 5-1. Suffolk would head into the third with a 26-12 advantage in shots on goal.
The Mustangs power play would capitalize again midway through the third, with Collin Sheehan stuffing home a rebound after Isaiah Dubois original attempt from the point was stopped. Trevor Roche received an assist on the play.
Unfortunately, for the hosts the marker was too little, too late. Suffolk would limit Central Maine opportunities going forward and the game ended in a 5-2 victory for the Rams, who swept the season series with the win. Suffolk also defeated the Mustangs by a 7-2 count on November 10th in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Overall it was a pretty disappointing performance," said coach Matt Buotte afterward. "Slow start, not a lot of jump. I knew we might start slow but I'm disappointed with our compete level over the entire 60 minutes. Just a disappointing night at the rink."
The Mustangs went 2-for-7 on the power play while Suffolk was 3-for-6. The Rams outshot Central Maine 33-17. With the loss the Mustangs drop to 7-7-0 on the year. The will wrap up the first semester slate of the games on Sunday, December 9th when they host Mass Maritime Academy. Puck drop will be a 5:00 p.m. at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn.