PORTLAND, ME – February 17, 2023 – Often times in a 5-0 game, the goaltender isn’t the lead story. On Friday night at the Cross Insurance Arena however, Michael DiPietro stole the show. With 33 stops capped by his best in the final minute, the Bruins prospect pitched his second career shutout, and first as a Mariner. Offensively, Pat Shea and Conner Bleackley led the way with two goals each.
There were only 12 combined shots in the opening period, but the Mariners collected the only goal. Just past the halfway point of the frame, Nick Master got behind the Lions defense and was hooked, leading to a delayed Trois-Rivieres penalty. The Mariners got DiPietro off the ice for an extra attacker, and created a scoring chance when Tommy Munichiello ripped a turnaround shot in the slot off the pad off goaltender Francis Marotte, that Pat Shea cleaned up for his team-leading 18th goal of the season.
At 4:18 of the 2nd period, Fedor Gordeev picked off a Lions pass in the neutral zone and drove the net, producing a rebound for Conner Bleackley, who potted a goal in his third straight game. It remained 2-0 until the final four minutes of that frame. At 16:05, Nick Master faked a shot in the left wing circle and threaded the needle across to Austin Albrecht, who one-timed home his first Mariners goal in his first game. Maine led 3-0 through 40 minutes.
Shea put the game on ice when he scored a shorthanded goal at 13:49 of the third, speeding around the last Lion defender and roofing his second goal of the game. Just over a minute later, Bleackley got his second, tipping home a right point shot from Gabriel Chicoine. In the third, DiPietro made 15 saves, including his best stops of the night, highlighted by a sprawling recovery in the final minute when the puck took an unfortunate bounce off a stanchion. It looked like Trois-Rivieres forward Matthew Barron had an empty net, but DiPietro dove back into the crease and somehow kept it out. He stopped 33 in the game for his second professional shutout.
It was the second time in a six day span that the Mariners shut out the Lions, following Francois Brassard’s 41 save effort on Saturday in Trois-Rivieres. With the win, the Mariners took sole possession of 2nd place in the North Division, jumping two points ahead of the Reading Royals. They are now 10 points behind the first place Newfoundland Growlers, with two games in hand.