Auburn, ME. - The Central Maine Community College ice hockey team rounded out their home schedule with a spirited 5-3 victory on senior night Friday evening at the Norway Savings Bank Arena over the University of New England Nor'easters. The win snapped a five game losing streak for the Mustangs that stretched back through the winter break.
After a disappointing defeat at Thomas College two nights earlier the Mustangs got off to a flying start. Recent transfer Jordan Eurenius would collect a Beau Armstrong feed and race down the left wing before unleashing a wrist shot past UNE goaltender Sam Fuller just 1:04 into the contest to send the home team off and running. The tally was Eurenius' second in as many games since arriving with the team this week.
The teams would trade chances until Carl Bear, who also scored for the second straight game, would beat Fuller with a high wrist shot from the top of the right circle to double the Mustangs lead to 2-0 with 11:27 remaining in the first. Armstrong and Dana Taylor-Fifeld notched assists on the play.
The momentum was short-lived however as the Mustangs continued a disappointing trend of conceding directly after scoring. Just 38 seconds after Bear brought "The Bank" to its feet UNE would strike back, scoring twice in quick succession. The first would come on a poor turnover at the offensive blueline that lead to an outnumbered Nor'easter rush with 10:49 to go in the first. The second would come just 1:15 later when Dylan Porier would score his first of the evening as Parker Springer served a cross-checking minor. Kyle Getty and Connor Zrinko received assists on the power play goal and the game was tied with 9:34 to play.
That would wrap up the first period scoring, with the Mustangs failing to convert a power play of their own and trailing in shots 10-4 through one.
"It was a pretty good first period," said Mustangs head coach Matt Buotte. "I was proud of our guys compete level. We had a couple difficult turnovers but overall we really stuck to it, really kept grinding."
The Mustangs would retake the lead 6:57 into the second period. After Jacoby Robinson slid a cross ice pass to Springer at the offensive blue line, Springer unleashed a wrist shot that Fuller couldn't handle cleanly. Senior captain Collin Sheehan slammed the rebound home to nudge the Mustangs ahead by a 3-2 count.
Porier would score his second of the night with 2:27 remaining, wristing a shot past Strout to give UNE life. The goal was unassisted.
It looked as though the teams would be heading to the third level, but Isaiah Dubois had others ideas. Dubois, a defenseman who was playing his first full period of the year at center, would finish off a dominating shift by burying a Trevor Roche feed after a goalmouth scramble with :39 to play, pushing the Mustangs on top heading into the final period.
"I told Isaiah before the game he was going to score tonight," said Buotte. "He had a really tough game in Thomas, easily his worst of the year. He came back tonight and turned that around. He was awesome the entirety of the game and it was great to see him be rewarded with the game-winner."
The teams would spend much of the third period trading chances as UNE desperately searched for an equalizer in front of a spirited Norway Savings Bank Arena crowd. The best chance came midway through the period when a Mustang breakdown saw the Nor'easters with a gaping net. Strout, who turned in 23 saves in one of his finest performances of the year, pushed right to left to make a stunning save that had the fans on their feet.
"Jacob [Strout] didn't make a career high in terms of saves or anything like that," said Buotte of his goaltender afterward. "The shots he stopped were high percentage. He made some huge, huge saves tonight that if he doesn't make we're probably not sitting here with a win. It wasn't his busiest game of the year but it might have been his best."
The Nor'easters had another great chance with 3:58 remaining when Dubois was sent to the box for cross-checking. However a frantic goalmouth scramble saw Strout make a key save, with Robinson making a desperate block that sprung Sean Sullivan on a shorthanded 2-on-0 with Drake Goupil. The two raced up ice before Sullivan slid a pass to Goupil, who committed Fuller before sliding the puck back to Sullivan who slammed it into a yawning cage to give the Mustangs the insurance they needed with 2:10 remaining.
The Mustangs would put the clamps down from there, cementing a 5-3 win to close out the home schedule. It was the Mustangs first win since a 4-3 victory of Wentworth Institute of Technology on November 17th.
"It was nice to send our home fans off with a nice victory," said Buotte. "Our guys were committed tonight. Efforts like that are going to bring this team a long way. I'm excited for the next few weeks. If we can string together a few games like that it's going to be a special end of the year."
The Nor'easters outshot Central Maine 26-24. UNE was 1-for-4 on the power play, with Central Maine finishing the night 0-for-3 despite generating some quality chances. The Mustangs travel to Orono on Sunday to visit the University of Maine looking to avenge an 8-4 defeat back on October 21st. The puck drops at 12:00 p.m.