ORONO — There are no moral victories or bonus points for effort. Not in Hockey East, and not in the final stretch run to the playoffs.

Blanked for the fifth time this season, the University of Maine hockey team was thwarted by a 28-save performance from Providence College senior Hayden Hawkey, and the 11th-ranked Friars held off the Black Bears for a 1-0 win Friday night at Alfond Arena. Senior Bryan Lemos scored the game’s only goal early in the second period, enough to help Hawkey set the Providence record with his 14th career shutout and equal the program’s all-time mark with his 64th career win.

The Friars (16-8-5, 9-6-2 Hockey East) extended their winning streak against Maine to 15 consecutive games dating back to 2012.

“All year (Hawkey) has been unbelievable,” Lemos said. “He’s a guy we know we can count on, and every time he’s in the net we feel comfortable that we’re going to win.”

Maine (10-14-3, 6-8-3 HE) will look back at a perfect night on the penalty kill, a flurry of game-tying chances in the final 90 seconds of regulation and a relatively clean night in their own end of the rink — and rue a missed opportunity.

The Black Bears cling to the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference with seven games remaining, including Saturday night’s return date with Providence. Maine is 5-5-1 in 11 games since the start of 2019.

“You can’t win a game if you don’t score a goal,” Maine coach Red Gendron said. “My reaction is that we played a good game and it wasn’t enough. My reaction is that we have to ask ourselves to give just a little bit more, another inch, because that’s the reality of it.”

On three separate occasions in the final 90 seconds of the third period, Maine threatened to knot the score with its own net empty in favor of an extra attacker.

Brady Keeper missed wide right at the 18:30 mark, and Patrick Shea tried to stuff the carom off the back boards under Hawkey. With 20 seconds remaining, Mitchell Fossier was all alone to the left of an empty net but couldn’t score. With 12 seconds on the clock, Keeper’s one-timer was met by a Hawkey save in heavy traffic.

“It was a little frustrating at the end,” Fossier said. “I pulled it around and I thought I had an empty net and it was going in. I think maybe it hit the shaft of their defenseman’s stick or something.”

“We were all over them,” Shea said. “(Keeper’s shot) hit the back wall and I threw it and it hit the pad and popped out. Then (Fossier) had that one — everyone thought he scored there. There were so many chances right around there, we just couldn’t find a way.”

Hawkey made 13 of his saves in the final period, at least a half dozen of those in the final minutes.

“The hockey gods were with us there,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “I thought Hawk came up pretty big in the third.”

Providence got on the board early in the second period, beginning the middle stanza with energy the Black Bears didn’t match.

Both teams made partial line changes at center ice, and the Friars broke over the offensive blue line in a lazy 3-on-3 rush. When the Maine defense sagged too deep, the fourth-liner Lemos carried the puck to the high slot and snapped his third goal of the season over the glove of Jeremy Swayman (29 saves) at the 5:10 mark.

Maine was outplayed in the second, outshot 14-3 in the stanza.

Hawkey was tested in an evenly played first period, making power-play stops on Shea and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup early and an even-strength stop on Ryan Smith’s redirect at the midpoint of the opening 20 minutes.

Swayman was good, too, turning away Providence’s leading goal-scorer Jack Dugan in the first and making a point-blank stop on Tyce Thompson’s power-play one-timer from the left circle during a late second-period Friar man advantage.

Maine couldn’t cash in on a golden opportunity with its own power play with under five minutes remaining in regulation en route to being shutout for the third time since returning from semester break on Dec. 28.

“It’s easier knowing that we played hard and played well and had our chances, versus a game where we lose and we feel like we got dominated,” Shea said. “I feel like we had the better of the chances. It’s better confidence-wise going into (Saturday), but obviously we need to find a way to bury (goals) and be better.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621
[email protected]
Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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