ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Brent Shepheard and Billy Ryan scored first-period goals 50 seconds apart in Maine's 4-1 win over St. Cloud State in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament Friday.
Michel Leveille had a goal and assist and freshman Teddy Purcell had three assists, inching the Black Bears (22-14-2) to within a win of making their second straight Frozen Four appearance and sixth since 1999. Rob Bellamy also scored while Ben Bishop shook off an early goal to stop 33 shots, helping Maine snap a four-game skid -- it's longest since January 1998.
Maine, the East region's No. 3 seed, will play Hockey East rival Massachusetts in the regional final Saturday. No. 4 UMass beat top-seeded Clarkson 1-0 on Kevin Jarman's overtime goal earlier in the day.
Justin Fletcher scored for St. Cloud State (22-11-7), the program dropping to 0-7 in six tournament appearances, including two losses in 1989. The Huskies at least enjoyed their first lead in a tournament game after Fletcher opened the scoring 3:39 in on a bad-angle shot that sneaked in through Bishop's legs.
The Black Bears took control by scoring three times on their first five shots.
Ryan put them up for good 8 minutes in when he stepped out from behind the net and backhanded in a shot past Bobby Goepfert. Leveille made it 3-1 with a power-play goal 6 minutes later when his point shot sneaked in through a crowd in front.
St. Cloud finished its season losing three straight and going 2-5-1 in its last eight.