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Game Recap: Minnesota vs. Maine

#11 Maine opened up the season with a huge 3-1 victory over #2 Minnesota at the XCel Energy Center tonight. The Black Bears were led by goalie Ben Bishop, who made 29 saves for the win and shut down Minnesota's talented offense.

Minnesota did not get off to the start that they were hoping for. Maine scored on a shot from the point tipped off forward Josh Soares in front and past Jeff Frazee just 21 seconds into the game. That seemed to set the tone, as Maine carried the play for much of the first period. Perhaps some of Maine's fast start can be credited to former Black Bear great Paul Kariya, who was in St. Paul tonight and talked to the Maine team before tonight's game.

"He gave us a great speech. He's a great guy," said Maine senior captain Michel Leveille.

They increased their lead to 2-0 at the 12 minute mark of the first when freshmen defenseman David Fischer got beat in a battle behind the net by Wes Clark, who fed teammate and Minnesota-native Bryan Plaszcz on the side of the net for the goal.

"I got caught looking over the wrong shoulder," explained Minnesota goalie Jeff Frazee, who was unable to make it to the post in time to stop Plaszcz.

Minnesota was lucky to escape the period only down a goal when Jay Barriball picked up a Mike Vannelli rebound to cut the lead to one with just over a minute left in the first period. The Gophers were outplayed and outshot in the period. While they had a few nice individual rushes, they were never able to string together two or three passes in a row to really set up a play and get goalie Ben Bishop out of position.

The Gophers rebounded and played much better in the second period. They outshot Maine 16-3, with all three Maine shots coming from the perimeter.

"We tried to play Minnesota's style of hockey in the second," said Bishop afer the game.

Despite outplaying the Black Bears, Minnesota was not able to put the tying goal in the net. Their best chance came when Jay Barriball took a long outlet pass from a defenseman for a breakaway, which was stopped by the glove of Ben Bishop. Though their advantage may not have showed up on the scoreboard, it did result in multiple powerplay opportunities, but the Gophers were unable to convert.

The third period was more of the same for the Gophers. The Gophers continued to control the play, but had no answer for Bishop.

"He had timely saves," said coach Don Lucia, pointing out that Bishop played well when he had to.

Minnesota's best chance to even the game up came near the midway point of the third period when freshmen Jay Barriball made a beautiful cross ice pass to fellow freshmen Erik Johnson, but Johnson was unable to find the handle and couldn't put the shot on goal.

Maine closed out the game with an empty net goal from freshmen Teddy Purcell with 26 seconds left in the game. The story of the evening though was the play of Bishop in goal.

"Ben has been there for us," said Leveille. "He'll be a big positive this year."