UMaine hockey rallies past Princeton 5-3 – Bangor Daily News

ORONO, Maine — Senior center Will Merchant saved a potential go-ahead goal, then scored the game-winner with 51.7 seconds left to rally the University of Maine hockey team to its third straight win, 5-3, over Princeton University on Friday night at Alfond Arena.

Andrew Tegeler’s goal with 6:59 remaining tied it after Ryan Kuffner’s power-play goal at the 7:48 mark of the third period gave Princeton its first lead.

The Tigers (2-7) nearly regained the lead with 3:01 left during a scramble following a Kyle Rankin shot but Merchant, who was in the crease behind goalie Matt Morris, swept the puck out of danger.

“I was on the back door and I saw the puck pop over (Morris’) pad,” explained Merchant.

Merchant’s game-winner came off the rebound of Sam Becker’s wrister from the high slot that hit a body in front and dropped to the ice.

“(Becker) did a great job getting it through and it popped in the air,” said Merchant. “I didn’t see it. I spun around and it landed on my stick.”

Merchant, on the left side in the low slot, cleanly beat Princeton goalie Colton Phinney, who said he never saw the shot.

With 17 seconds left, Merchant set up Steven Swavely for a game-clinching, empty-netter.

The teams play Saturday at 7 p.m.

Morris registered 30 saves for 3-8-3 Maine while Phinney posted 38.

Nolan Vesey and Blaine Byron gave Maine one-goal leads but right wing David Hallisey answered with one in each period.

Kuffner made it 3-2 after some nifty stickhandling by Max Veronneau, who threaded the needle with a pass to the far post for an easy finish.

But Tegeler tied it as Cedric Lacroix drew a faceoff it back to him in the right circle and Tegeler beat Phinney with a wrister past the blocker into the far corner.

Tegeler said Maine noticed that the way Princeton’s players lined up on defensive-zone faceoffs, they screened Phinney.

“I just had to take a little step (before shooting),” said Tegeler, the University of Massachusetts transfer whose goal was his first in two seasons at Maine.

“I saw the shot but he beat me. It was a good shot,” said Phinney.

Vesey staked Maine to a 1-0 lead in the first period when he deflected Mark Hamilton’s point shot behind Phinney. Hallisey tied it with a one-timer from the right circle off a Kuffner feed.

Princeton dictated the play in the first period and forced the careless Bears into numerous turnovers. Maine played better in the second period.

“We had a sloppy start but we played pretty well after that,” said Maine coach Red Gendron.

Byron scored by collecting the puck from Cam Brown in the corner to Phinney’s left, muscling his way across the low slot, pulling it around Phinney and sliding it home.

Princeton tied it after an impressive move by Eric Robinson, who burst around a defenseman and fed Hallisey a precise pass for an open one-timer.

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