Augusta, ME - The Central Maine Community College hockey team started it's second semester of play on the road Wednesday night as they traveled to Augusta to take on arch-rival Thomas College. Two quick second period goals blew a tightly contested game open in favor of the host Terriers, who would eventually put the clamps down on a 6-3 victory.
Thomas got off to a fast start in the contest with Ryan Kappleman finishing off a beautiful passing play to give the Terriers the all important first goal just under three minutes into the contest. Alex Berard was credited with an assist on the play, which would stand as the only goal in a physical, tight-checking first period. The Mustangs were out-shot 10-8 in the opening frame, with the best chance of the period coming on a 1-on-1 rush which saw forward Trevor Roche ring the post.
"We had a solid start, especially for how little we've practiced coming out the break," said Mustangs head coach Matt Buotte. "It was tough to give one up so quickly, but I thought we got up off the mat pretty well after that. We were unlucky not to come out of that period tied."
The game would burst into life offensively in the middle period. With the Mustangs on the power play, Thomas forward Alex Berard would block an Isaiah Dubois shot from the point and race the length of the ice alone on Central Maine goaltender Anthony Tilelli before unleashing a picture perfect shot to double the hosts lead to 2-0.
"That was a perfect shot," said Tilelli afterward. "I think it hit all three posts [and went in]."
Still on the power play, Central Maine would respond almost immediately. Just 36 seconds after Berard's shorthanded marker the Mustangs power play would find success of their own. Carl Bear would tuck a rebound past Thomas goaltender Tom Green to cut the lead in half.
After the Bear tally Thomas would rally behind a home crowd which had "blacked out" the Camden National Bank Ice Vault. Zach Gagne and Cam Bigelow would score goals just 23 seconds apart to thrust the Terriers into a commanding 4-1 lead with just over 11 minutes to go in the second period. The Mustangs would call a timeout to settle things down, but the damage had been done.
"It was disappointing to give up those two quick ones," said Buotte. "I was pleased with how we responded afterward. It would've been easy to pack our bags and head home at that point but the guys kept grinding, we just couldn't quite get back in the game."
The Mustangs diligence would be rewarded with :46 to play in the period when a beautiful rush from defenseman Shawn Sullivan saw him slide a pass to newly-added forward Jordin Eurenius. Eurenius, who recently transferred from Anna Maria College, one-timed the feed past Green for his first of the year to cut the lead to 4-2. Thomas held a 24-11 shot advantage through two periods of play.
The Terriers--who beat the Mustangs at home on December 8th by a 5-2 count to avenge a November 7th road defeat of the same score--would deliver the devastating blow 3:29 into the third period. Christo Naranja would chase down a loose puck and sprint in alone on Tilelli before squeaking a shot over Tilelli's left pad to put the Terriers ahead 5-2. The goal was unassisted.
Mustangs captain Jordy Knoren would score an unassisted marker of his own with 11:55 to play in the third to trim the deficit to 5-3. The momentum, again, was short-lived. A mere :41 after the Knoren goal the Terriers would wrap up the scoring, with Berard one-timing a Kappelman feed in the slot past Tilelli for his second goal of the night. Tilelli, who had been battling a minor injury sustained earlier in the game, was replaced by Jacob Strout with 9:21 to play in the third. He stopped 24 of 30 in defeat, with Strout stopping all three shots he faced in relief. "It was a tough loss, for sure, but there are a lot of positives to take," reflected Buotte. "We had some good contributions from some of our new guys, we kept competing to the end. We just need to take that next step, to take control of the game when we have the momentum. We're looking forward to getting back on the ice Friday night."
With the win, Thomas edged Central Maine 2-1 in the season series. They would outshoot the Mustangs 33-18 while going 1-for-4 on the power play. Central Maine, who dropped to 7-10-0 on the year, were also 1-for-4 with the man advantage. The Mustangs will next play on Friday, January 25th when they host the UNE Nor'easters at 7:00 at Norway Savings Bank Arena.