The University of Maine Black Bears looked to pick up their first home win of the year Friday night against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.
The Black Bears were 1 minute away from securing the victory when the Minutemen pulled their goaltender to go six-on-five, when junior defenseman Conor Allen slipped one past UMaine junior goaltender Martin Ouellette to tie the game at two. With no scoring in overtime, the game ended in a tie.
Not one goal was scored during regular five-on-five play: UMaine scored during a four-on-four and four-on-three, and UMass scored a five-on-four and six-on-five advantage.
Coming into the game, UMaine was ranked dead last in Hockey East in the following categories: goals per game with 1.36, goals allowed with 3.18, penalty minutes per game with 15.8 and power play efficiency of 3.9 percent. UMass — who has lost to No. 1 Boston College in a pair of one-goal games and defeated No. 5 University of New Hampshire — was ranked fifth or higher in each of the above categories.
The Minutemen came out fast in the first period while maintaining control of the puck as they put up five shots on goal in the first 5 minutes, keeping UMaine shotless during the same duration.
The Black Bears eventually got their offensive momentum going. After what looked to be a missed opportunity when junior forward Mark Anthoine was called offside on a two-on-one, fortunes changed for UMaine: after Black Bear senior forward Joey Diamond and Minutemen sophomore defenseman Oleg Yevenko were called for embellishment and holding, respectively.
With 7:39 gone by in the first period, UMaine freshman forward Devin Shore assisted senior defenseman Mark Nemec in scoring his second goal of the year during the four-on-four, putting the Black Bears up, 1-0.
Less than 1 a minute later, UMass redshirt sophomore forward Steven Guzzo was called for high-sticking, giving UMaine a four-on-three advantage and putting them on the power play.
UMaine was able to score their third power-play goal of the season out of 52 tries 9:21 into the first period, when sophomore defenseman Jake Rutt blasted a slapshot by UMass sophomore goaltender Kevin Boyle after being assisted by freshman defensemen Ben Hutton and senior forward Kyle Beattie.
“When we get [a power-play goal] this season, it’s kind of an event,” UMaine head coach Tim Whitehead said.
Ouellette shut out the Minutemen in the first period by stopping all 11 UMass shots on goal.
The Minutemen cut the lead in half in the second period as UMass took advantage of their own power play opportunity. The physical play picked up towards the end of the period, as a couple of scuffles broke out and hitting after the whistle penalties were called.
The penalty that enabled UMass to score on the power play was Diamond’s goaltender interference penalty that occurred 13:00 into the second period. Guzzo was assisted by junior forwards Patrick Kiley and Troy Power 15:00 into the second period to make the score 2-1 in favor of UMaine.
Diamond, who broke the UMaine record for career penalty minutes in the game, disagreed with the call.
“It’s what he saw, and obviously I don’t agree with the call. They kind of have it out for me a little bit, but that’s fine. It’s just something I have to play through,” Diamond said.
UMaine held the lead and kept the Minutemen at bay for the entire third period until UMass pulled Boyle out with just over 1 minute to play in the game. Going six-on-five, Allen scored for UMass unassisted to tie the game at two.
“We had six guys out there, I knew someone would be in the slot,” said UMass senior forward Rocco Carzo about the deflection before Allen’s goal.
“They were able to score first and then they were able to score second. I wanted to stress to my guys at the end of the game you can’t play the scoreboard. Whether you’re up a goal, down a goal, down two, it doesn’t matter,” said UMass head coach John Micheletto. “Honestly, we wanted the two points, but we were down. Second period we weren’t playing well, but we battled back.”
Neither UMaine nor UMass were able to make any serious moves in the extra period until the Minutemen went on the power play after Rutt was called for slashing 3:52 into overtime. Ouellette was able to stop all of the UMass shots on goal before UMaine went on their final offensive. Boyle was able to stop the Black Bears, and the game ended with a 2-2 tie.
“[That penalty kill] was big: It was very big, very important, a tough situation to be in. These guys handled it well. It was a tough series to be in, that penalty kill series, but it turned out to be a big positive,” Whitehead said. “I thought Martin was the biggest positive, he established himself, and I was very impressed with his performance. It feels like a loss after you have a lead and the other team ties it, but it was hard fought, it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we only got one point out of it.”
“It was a point lost. We had a two nothing lead, and at the Alfond that should be a win. The third period I thought we played pretty well but we couldn’t generate enough offense,” Rutt said. “Marty played a hell of a game. They outplayed us; you [have to] give credit to them.”
Ouellette saved 30 shots for the Black Bears while Boyle saved 27 on the night, as UMaine’s record goes to 2-9-1 — 1-5-1 in Hockey East — and UMass goes to 3-4-1 — 2-4-1 Hockey East.
The Black Bears will take this upcoming weekend off before hosting a weekend series verses the University of Vermont Catamounts Friday Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Alfond Arena.