Win or lose, having the chance to play ice hockey on the diamond of Fenway Park is a memory that will last forever.
Thankfully, for the University of Maine men’s hockey team, that memory will also bring along the sweet thoughts of defeating their biggest rival, the University of New Hampshire in front of 38,000 fans by the score of 5-4.
Either the game was too even or the players wanted more time under the Fenway lights, but 60 minutes wasn’t enough to settle the score, as an extra period was called on.
UMaine senior center Brian Flynn scored the game-winner a minute and a half into overtime.
“What a great night,” said UMaine head coach Tim Whitehead. “Being on the winning side is a great thrill.”
“It was a great atmosphere,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “We battled back, tied it up and had our chances.”
The game started off on the right skate for the Wildcats, as they were able to take the lead just over a minute into the contest. After freshman forward Grayson Downing fired a shot toward sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan, junior forward John Henrion corralled the rebound and found an opening past Sullivan. It was Henrion’s fifth goal of the season.
UMaine countered 3 minutes later while on a power play. After UNH freshman center Jay Camper was tagged for tripping, the Black Bears fourth-ranked power play unit was able to get the job done. Skating down the left side of the ice, UMaine junior center Kyle Beattie dropped a pass off to oncoming sophomore forward Mark Anthoine for his eighth goal of the season.
Seconds after the game-tying goal, UMaine picked up their first penalty when Beattie was booked for tripping. The Black Bears managed to keep the Wildcats out of the net on the man-advantage.
Midway through the first period the Wildcats gained another opportunity but Sullivan stifled the one-two play.
After alternating penalties for UMaine and UNH, the period came to a close with the scored tied at one. The Black Bears managed three more shots on goal than the Wildcats, 10-7.
Any action that may have been lacking in the first period was in abundance in the second, as three goals in the span of just over a minute found the net.
The Black Bears looked like they had the upper hand with a 5-3 power play, but a costly turnover in neutral ice by senior forward Spencer Abbott turned into an easy breakaway goal by UNH sophomore forward Kevin Goumas.
“Even though they scored, we knew things were going to happen tonight,” Whitehead said.
Immediately after, the Black Bears countered with the game-tying goal 17 seconds later. Off the faceoff, junior forward Joey Diamond found the net after passes from Abbott and senior defender Will O’Neill.
“It was unfortunate [UMaine] came right back and got one,” Umile said.
Less than a minute later, Anthoine put UMaine ahead with his second power play goal of the game, beating DeSmith through his legs, giving UMaine a 3-2 lead entering the final period.
“That’s a great example of a guy who works extremely hard and keeps improving,” Whitehead said of Anthoine.
The third period started with a bang for the Black Bears, as they stretched their lead to two after Diamond found the net for the second time. After a beautiful pass by Abbott, Diamond beat DeSmith for his 14th goal of the season.
“Our line knew we wanted to get one right away when the ice was still fresh,” Diamond said. “[Abbott] made a great play and I got the shot off.”
However, UNH fought back early in the third period, coming within one after Goumas’ second goal.
Less than 2 minutes later, Henrion tipped in a shot by Downing to tie the game up at four.
The scoring stopped there, as an extra period was called upon to try and settle the score.
A minute and a half into the overtime, Flynn scored the game-winner off a pass from Abbott. It was the Massachusetts native’s 11th goal of the season.
Abbott snagged three assists in the game to put him tied nationally for points, with 33 thus far.
The Black Bears outshot the Wildcats 33-24 in the game. Sullivan stopped 20 of the 24 shots in his direction, while DeSmith denied 28 attempts.
The Black Bears move into a virtual tie with Merrimack College for third in Hockey East with 15 points. The Wildcats fall to ninth in conference, in front of only the University of Vermont.