The University of Maine men’s hockey team couldn’t pick up its first home victory of the season, losing to the University of Vermont Friday night before tying the Catamounts on Saturday.
UMaine sits at a Hockey East worst 2-10-2 while the Catamounts are 3-7-3 this season.
On Friday night, two UVM freshmen scored the first goal of their careers and UMaine sophomore defenseman Jake Rutt appeared to have scored a game-tying goal with 6 seconds to play, but 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 UMaine 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 three for 56 on the power play coming into the game, but UMaine used special teams effectively in the first period to get on the board first.
UVM junior forward H.T. Lenz was called for holding, 4 minutes into the first period. UMaine took advantage 1 minute later, as UMaine senior forward Joey Diamond scooted an unassisted goal past UVM freshman goaltender Brody Hoffman, scoring his second goal of the year and giving the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.
The second period brought an increase in physical play. Seven penalties were called during the period. Fights and scuffles seemed to occur 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 during the second period and had other close opportunities to take the lead.
With 5 minutes played in the second period, UMaine junior goaltender Martin Ouellette blocked a shot. The deflection went out into a group of players. Two players fell, fighting over the puck, and UVM sophomore forward Jacob Fallon passed the loose puck to freshman defenseman Yvan Pattyn. Pattyn shot the puck through a crowd that 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. The puckseemed to be headed into goal, but Ouellette batted it out of the danger zone to preserve the 1-1 tie.
After Diamond and junior defenseman Brice O’Connor were sent the box, giving UVM a five-on-three advantage, Catamount sophomore defenseman Nick Lukko had a prime opportunity to give UVM a lead when Ouellette got caught, far outside the goaltender’s crease. Luckily for the Black Bears, Lukko’s shot barley went wide right.
The third period was clean, with no penalties being committed. UVM kept UMaine out of the offensive zone while extending their lead.
Catamount freshman forward Robert Polesello was assisted by junior forward Chris McCarthy 7:44 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 [goals] 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.”
Black Bears skate to 2-2 tie against Catamounts Saturday night
After coming close to tying the game Friday night, the Black Bears took to the ice, looking for a win against the UVM Saturday night in their last chance to win at home in 2012.
Hoffman made 36 saves while Diamond scored on a power play in the third period that prevented the Black Bears from being swept at home with the game ending in a tie, 2-2.
“They out-shot us pretty bad but I don’t think they out-chanced us,” Hoffman said.
In a quiet first period, neither team gave up multiple opportunities for their opponents to score.
The best chance for UMaine came 7:30 into the first period: The Black Bears were on a power play after UVM sophomore defenseman Michael Paliotta committed an interference penalty. UMaine freshman forward Steven Swavely received a pass and had an open shot on net but missed, wide left.
Referees called a delayed penalty on UMaine senior forward Kyle Beattie, but while play was still going on Black Bear senior captain defenseman Mike Cornell was also called for a penalty, making UVM’s only power play of the period a 5-on-3. Ouellette and the defense kept the puck out of their defensive zone and kept the score 0-0.
The Black Bears and Catamounts both picked up the pace on offense in the second period after firing off six and three shots, respectively, in the first.
UVM got on the board first when Lukko and senior forward Brett Bruneteau assisted junior forward Matt White in scoring his second goal of the year, 4 minutes into the second period.
UMaine had a prime opportunity to tie the game after Paliotta and Fallon were sent to the box 30 seconds apart from each other to give the Black Bears a five on three.
“You kill off [the five-on-three power play], that’s huge. It’s a downer to the power play and positive energy to the team that killed it off,” Sneddon said.
Beattie missed an incoming pass and subsequently an open shot opportunity and Diamond misfired on another open-shot opportunity. The Catamounts successfully killed the penalty.
With 11:48 played in the second period, the Black Bears made up for their power-play miscues when sophomore forward Ben Hutton fired a slapshot from the left side that found its way past Hoffman, tying the game at one goal apiece.
“The puck was dumped in and our forwards went out there and put the puck in the corner, passed it to [junior forward Mark] Anthoine at the top. He took a shot and it got blocked, it came right to me, I shot it, it hit him right in the shoulder, and it popped in,” Hutton said.
The final minute of the period proved to be exciting, as the Black Bears formed a three on two on their way to the Catamount zone but the shot was wide. Beattie also had an open shot for UMaine, but it was saved.
With 4 seconds left until the second intermission, UVM took the lead when Fallon and McCarthy assisted senior forward Tobias Nilsson-Roos, making the score 2-1.
The third period picked up where the previous period left off. Paliotta was called for high sticking 25 seconds in, giving the Black Bears a power play right off the bat.
For the second consecutive game, UMaine used a power play to score a goal when Diamond shot one past Hoffman unassisted 1:11 into the third period to tie the game 2-2.
“I needed to make a push to be in better position for the rebound. I just stretched and couldn’t get in position for the rebound,” Hoffman said.
“It was just a puck to the net, and he didn’t get my rebound,” Diamond said.
The rest of the period was a physical, defensive struggle, with the referees letting the players play for the most part. With 48 seconds remaining in the game, UVM went on a power play one last time when UMaine senior forward Adam Shemansky was called for slashing and O’Connor was sent to the box for ten minutes for game misconduct.
UVM did not score in regulation, but kept their power play going into the extra period.
Ouellette and the defense stopped the Catamounts for the remainder of the power play in overtime, and both teams stopped every chance they had for the rest of the period. The Catamounts and Black Bears tied 2-2.
“Obviously not the result we wanted but there were a lot of positives we can build off of. Our discipline was good with the exception of O’Connor’s [misconduct penalty]. I thought the penalty kill was strong, especially in overtime,” Whitehead said. “I felt that this one was very good, we worked a lot harder to get points. We will work off the positives and continue to improve. There was a lot we could build off of tonight.”
“We thought we were definitely better than last night. We got better as the game went on, and I thought we played hard,” Diamond said. “We didn’t really want to lose this game, getting swept on the weekend was not something that was going to happen again here, and we got a goal on the power play.”
The tie leaves UMaine at 2-10-2. The Black Bears are now last place in Hockey East while UVM moves to 3-7-3. UMaine will head to Boston University for their next game on Saturday Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.