The 2-9-1 University of Maine Black Bears hosted the 2-7-2 University of Vermont Catamounts Friday night in an attempt to gain two points and move out of the Hockey East cellar.
Two UVM freshmen scored the first goal of their careers and UMaine defenseman Jake Rutt appeared to have scored a game tying goal with six seconds to play before the referees waived it off, allowing UVM to skate away with a 2-1 victory.
“It was a hard fought game, and there is not much to say. I’m not going to comment on the last goal,” said head coach Tim Whitehead.
“I thought both teams left it all out there, both teams battled hard, it was kind of like a playoff style game,” said UVM head coach Kevin Sneddon. “We were fortunate at the end to have the call go our way; I think they made the right call looking at it.”
The Black Bears were only 3-56 on the power play coming into the game, but used special teams effectively in the first period to get on the board first.
UVM forward H.T. Lenz was called for holding 4 minutes into the first period, and UMaine was able to take advantage one minute as later Joey Diamond scooted the puck past UVM goaltender Brody Hoffman unassisted to score his second goal of the year and give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.
The second period brought an increase in physical play as seven penalties were called in the period. Fights and scuffles seemed to be occurring after almost every single play, leading the referees to grab captains from both teams after the period to talk.
Though no power-play goals were scored, UVM scored a game-tying goal in and had other close opportunities to take the lead.
With 5 minutes played in the second period, Ouellette blocked a shot and the deflection went out into a group of players. Two players fell fighting over the puck, and UVM forward Jacob Fallon passed the loose puck to fellow defenseman Yvan Pattyn. Pattyn shot the puck through a crowd and it ended up in the net, tying the game at one goal apiece.
Two minutes later, a shot deflected off Ouellette’s pad and went straight up in the air and seemed to be headed in, but Ouellette batted the puck out of the danger zone to preserve the 1-1 tie.
After Diamond and defenseman Brice O’Connor were sent the box to give UVM a 5-on-3 advantage, Catamount defenseman Nick Lukko had a prime opportunity to give UVM a lead when Ouellette got caught too far outside the goaltender’s crease, but Lukko’s shot went barley wide right.
In the third period, UVM kept UMaine out of the offensive zone while extending their lead.
Catamount forward Robert Polesello was assisted by forward Chris McCarthy just under 8 minutes into the third period to give UVM a 2-1 lead.
“At first I thought it just hit the crossbar, but then I saw it drop in and I was pretty excited,” Polesello said. “I saw that [UMaine] was making a line-change and the [defense] was late, so I saw a gap through the middle.”
“I was pleased we got a couple of first goals for our guys, especially Polesello. He thrives on offense and wants to be a contributor, and the team is not scoring a lot,” Sneddon said. “As a freshman you put a lot of pressure on yourself and it was nice for him to get his first collegiate goal and hopefully it’s the first of many.”
The 2-1 score stood until six seconds remained in regulation when Rutt fired a desperation slapshot from the blue line on the left side and had apparently tied the game. The referees reviewed the play and determined that Diamond was in contact with Hoffman, keeping the score at 2-1.
“That was my fifth or sixth reviewed goal this year and I’ve had two or three go each way so I was just trying to stay calm,” Hoffman said. “[The first road win] is huge, but it’s nothing if we don’t come out and play well tomorrow.”
“I thought we had a good effort but obviously it wasn’t enough. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Vermont, they played a great game and their goalie played great,” Diamond said. “We’ve had trouble this year putting together a full 60 minutes. It’s tough right now, but we have to just keep moving forward.”
UMaine and UVM will play game two of their weekend series tomorrow night at the Alfond Arena with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.