The tough-luck season for the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team continued this weekend in a two-game series with Boston University. With a game-winning goal waved off Friday night and an unlucky bounce off a stanchion leading to a BU game winner with 3 seconds to play in overtime Saturday night, the Black Bears could not catch a break in their pursuit of the final Hockey East playoff spot.
Shore’s game winner waved off in 3-3 tie
UMaine freshman forward Devin Shore looked as though he had a game-winning goal in the third period, but the goal was waved off after a review determined that freshman forward Ryan Lomberg interfered with Boston University freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor as UMaine and BU tied 3-3.
“It was a crazy game. I really like how we fought back and took the lead,” said UMaine head coach Tim Whitehead. “This game had a little bit of everything — the crowd was into it, both goalies made great saves, a lot of physical play — but I really just wish we had two points.”
“There was a lot of contact and traffic in front. A lot of players were in the crease. It was a judgment call and it was nice to have this one go my way,” O’Connor said.
After a relatively quiet start of the game, BU went on the offensive and put two goals past UMaine junior goaltender Martin Ouellette, 10 seconds apart from each oher.
With 8:48 expired in the first period, Terrier sophomore forward Evan Rodrigues assisted junior forward Matt Nieto in scoring his eighth goal of the season to put BU up 1-0.
In the ensuing faceoff, the Black Bears turned the puck over in their own zone, and BU wasted no time taking advantage of the stolen puck. BU sophomore forward Cason Hohmann assisted senior forward Wade Megan to put the Terriers up 2-0.
UMaine went on the power play twice in the first period and used their second opportunity to cut into the BU lead. With 17:47 played in the first period, BU freshman forward Sam Kurker committed a hooking penalty to set up a 5-on-4. Lomberg and sophomore forward Jake Rutt assisted freshman forward Steven Swavely 49 seconds later to put the Black Bears to within one of the Terriers.
BU freshman forward Matt Lane’s tripping penalty at the end of the period gave UMaine a power-play opportunity to start the second period, marking the opening of the Black Bear’s offensive flood gates and BU’s discipline problems.
Just over a minute into the second period, Swavely scored his second power-play goal of the game after being assisted by the team leaders in assists and goals Shore and Joey Diamond, respectively, to tie the game at two goals apiece.
Penalties on UMaine senior defenseman Mark Nemec and Kurker made the game a four-on-four matchup only a couple of minutes after Swavely’s goal, and Megan made it a four-on-three advantage for the Black Bears 4:53 into the second period after being called for a roughing penalty that resulted in a double minor.
Diamond scored his 11th goal of the season with Swavely, returning the favor with the assist alongside Shore to put the Black Bears up 3-2 5:27 into the second period.
“Their power-play goals, we had different players break down, but it was the same exact mistake made both times,” Parker said.
After being out-shot 13-11 in the first period, UMaine allowed only 4 Terrier shots on goal while recording 12 of their own, most coming while on a power play during one of four BU penalties in the period.
After three unanswered goals by the Black Bears, the Terriers used a power-play goal of their own to knot the game up.
UMaine freshman forward Bill Norman provided BU a five on four advantage by being called for slashing 6:13 into the third period. Rodrigues tallied his second goal assist of the night alongside Nieto to help freshman defenseman Ahti Oksanen score the equalizer.
Diamond and Shore looked to team up once again late on in the third period when Diamond passed off the puck to Shore who was standing on the right side faceoff circle when he fired the puck past O’Connor with under 7 minutes to play. After a review, the referees waved off what would have been UMaine’s fourth power-play goal of the night. It was determined that Lomberg made contact with O’Connor.
“That was tough. Our power play was on all night. The goal went in, but I respect the decision. It will make the next one that much sweeter,” Shore said.
“I was just fighting to see the puck. There was a bit of contact, and the ref will get a lot of criticism for making the call. There was just a jersey in my face, and I couldn’t see the puck,” O’Connor said.
The score remained 3-3 at the end of regulation as UMaine went into a scenario they have seen time and time again this year, falling behind early, catching up and not getting a game winning goal.
BU senior forward Ben Rosen came the closest to scoring with 45 seconds to play in overtime, as the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
“I like the way we started, I like the way we finished, and I like the way we competed,” said Parker. “I didn’t like the penalties, especially in the second period. But I will take the one point for sure. They played well. We took a step in the right direction, after almost shooting ourselves in the foot.”
BU steals one in OT after 3rd period UMaine comeback
UMaine scored three unanswered goals in the third period to overcome a 4-1 deficit, but Nieto scored the game winner with 3 seconds to play in overtime, giving the Terriers a 5-4 victory. BU freshman goaltender Sean Maguire saved 44 shots for the Terriers while Oullette saved 29 for UMaine.
“It was an unbelievable game for the crowd and TV. Absolutely fabulous,” Parker said. “Both goalies played well, both teams look a lot better. UMaine looks a lot better than they did earlier in the year. We look a lot better than we did last week. I thought after the first period last night we had our team back. This win will really help us out.”
“We battled back. Anytime they score and to go up three in the period, it shows so much about our team and our character,” Shore said. “Anything bad that could happen to a hockey team has happened to us this year and we still stuck tight. We’re pretty proud of ourselves for coming back.”
This one got off to as fast start as Diamond wasted no time getting to the puck right out of the faceoff, stealing the puck to gain a wide open lane to the net. Maguire made the save, but UMaine kept the puck in the offensive zone and fired off shot after shot onto Maguire.
UMaine enjoyed the momentum until freshman defenseman Ben Hutton was called for holding 6:08 into the first period. The Terriers used the penalty to gain their own offensive momentum as the period wore on.
A BU penalty on freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk 16:13 into the first period provided the Black Bears a great opportunity to score, as UMaine scored three power-play goals the night before against the Terriers.
With 17:10 expired in the opening period, Rutt passed the puck off to Diamond, who took the initial shot. Lomberg was waiting for the puck off the rebound of Maguire’s pad and placed it in an opening to the net to put the Black Bears up 1-0.
The Black Bears looked to take advantage of another power play at the beginning of the second period after BU freshman forward Mike Moran was sent to the box at the end of the first period. UMaine forward almost extended the Black Bear lead by firing consecutive shots of the post, and BU killed the penalty off without any more close calls.
The Terriers scored the first of their three goals of the period when they went on their own power play after junior forward Jon Swavely was caught hooking 11:06 into the second period.
Oksanen fired a slapshot from the right side, where freshman forward Danny O’Regan picked up the rebound and tied the game at one goal apiece 11:50 into the second period.
Five minutes later, Diamond was speeding up the ice into the Black Bear offensive zone before misfiring on a shot. Megan and junior defenseman Garrett Noonan passed the the loose puck up to sophomore forward Cason Hohmann, and Hohmann used his speed to get around the UMaine defense and in front of the net. Hohmann scooped the puck up and over Ouellette into the top of the net to extend the BU lead to 2-1.
With 14:30 gone in the second period, Jon Swavely had his own chance at an open lane on the right side toward the BU net, but his shot went wide left across the crease.
BU scored for the final time in the second period with 51 seconds to play, when Grezelcyk picked up a loose puck in the UMaine defensive zone and hit a slap shot past Ouellette unassisted, giving BU a 3-1 lead.
“That third goal is the one I should have had. It was a nice shot, but I have to make that save and I usually do, but those goals are going to happen and I need to stay focused and stay in the game. I knew these guys would come back,” Ouellette said.
Diamond went to the box with 18 seconds left in the period to give BU a one-man advantage to start the final period, and BU did not need very much time to capitalize on the opportunity. Just over 1 minute in, O’Regan was assisted by Nieto and Oksanen to put BU up 4-1.
UMaine freshman forward Will Merchant and BU senior forward Ryan Santana both were sent to the box within 15 seconds of each other, setting up a 4-on-4 with 3:45 expired in the third period. This is where the UMaine comeback began.
Diamond connected off a rebound from a shot by freshman defenseman Ben Hutton 15 seconds after the four on four went into effect to bring UMaine to within two goals of the Terriers.
With 7:22 expired in the final period, Rodrigues had a breakaway with UMaine defenseman Mark Nemec in pursuit from behind. Nemec caught up with Rodrigues and hooked him from behind to prevent a shot, sending Nemec to the box. Even short-handed, UMaine found a way to score as forward Devin Shore made up for a no-call goal the night before by hitting in a pass from Conor Riley 8:35 into the third period.
“That felt really good. I couldn’t sleep last night: The whole thing was just hanging over my head, and I couldn’t let it go. To put that one in felt really good,” Shore said.
UMaine’s offense stagnated after Shore’s goal as BU’s defense stepped up to try and prevent UMaine from tying the game. With under a minute left, Whitehead pulled Ouellette to try and give the Black Bears one final push at scoring the equalizer. Only 40 seconds remained in the game when Shore and Rutt found a way to get the puck to forward Steven Swavely to tie the game up to make it the second overtime game in as many nights between the Black Bears and Terriers.
The Black Bear offense went all out in the extra period, keeping all players in the offensive zone with nobody back in case of a turnover and rushing the puck up when a UMaine player took control when they were on defense.
“I don’t know what the shots were in overtime but I felt like we were back on our heels a little bit. I don’t know how the puck bounced out of the zone,” Parker said.
This aggressive strategy backfired when Nemec went to pass the puck forward and off the glass with under a minute to play when the puck hit a stanchion and bounced sideways onto the ice.
“Nemec carried it up, just about to cross the blue line, made the smart play of chipping it up ahead and it hit the stanchion,” Whitehead said.
“My assistant coach said we got a horrible bounce off the stanchion and it was going right to a Maine guy, but instead it bounced right over his stick to our guy and we went the other way,” Parker said.
Rodrigues took control of the puck. With all the Black Bears still in the offensive zone, he had a wide-open lane to the goal with Nieto. Rodrigues passed it off to Nieto on the two on zero and Nieto netted the game-winning goal with 3 seconds to play.
“Yeah, Rodrigues made a really good play, he moved it up. There was 8 seconds [left] and I was kind of scared we were going to run out of time, but Evan made a great play and I just had to tuck it in,” Nieto said.
“It’s tough. We’re proud of guys that they came back. I’m just proud of the guys, it shows discipline, the perseverance, and they have shown it all year after the very tough start to the season,” Whitehead said. “We’re proud of them, what can you say, the game is like life. Sometimes it takes some weird turns, but you just have to get back up and keep fighting, and that’s what we’ll do.”
“All that matters now is making a playoff push. If we can sneak into the playoffs, I don’t know if we’d want to play us, and that’s what I’m trying to help us do,” Shore said.
UMaine falls to 8-16-6 on the year and is one point behind the University of Massachusetts for the last spot in the Hockey East playoffs. The Black Bears will have an opportunity to take that spot from the Minutemen as they head to Amherst, Mass. next weekend in a two-game series.