ORONO, Maine — The Maine Black Bears were happy to be home. After four tough road games over the past two weeks, the Black Bears returned to Alfond Arena and knocked the UMass-Lowell River Hawks from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 6-3 victory.
The line of Lucas Lawson, Tom Reimann, and Niko Dimitrakos led the Black Bears to the win, totaling eight points as Reimann scored a hat trick, while Dimitrakos assisted on three goals and Lawson added two more helpers.
“We played well. No one was playing selfish with the puck, and good things happened,” said Dimitrakos.
“My linemates played well tonight,” Reimann said. “We played well in practice this week, and we brought that into the game. We clicked.”
Reimann’s first goal of the game tied the score at one at 12:26 of the first period. Dimitrakos got a rush down the left wing in transition. He stopped and passed to Troy Barnes at the point. Barnes ripped a wrister to the front, where Reimann tipped it by goalie Jimi St. John.
UMass-Lowell had taken the lead only two minutes earlier in a rare three-on-three situation. Jerramie Domish blocked a Cliff Loya shot and the puck caromed to the other end. Maine goalie Mike Morrison came out of the net to try and poke it away from Domish, but his clearing pass hit Domish and he had a wide-open net to shoot at. He buried the puck at 10:26.
Maine took the lead for good at 18:20 of the first. A Peter Metcalf clearing pass off the boards went behind the UML defense. Colin Shields happened to be behind the defense and broke in on St. John. He wristed a blistering shot over St. John’s shoulder to give the Black Bears a 2-1 lead.
The next goal was the turning point in the game. Early in the second period, UML’s Dan Fontas had a clear shot at an open net while Morrison was down. His shot went wide, though and a Maine breakaway resulted. A long clearing pass went to Lawson, who brought the puck behind the net and left it to Dimitrakos. As he tried to move the puck to his stick, it hit his skate and went in front of the net.
Reimann was there to poke it by St. John at 2:05.
“That goal put us in our heels,” said UMass-Lowell coach Blaise McDonald. “We failed to capitalize on a good opportunity and they scored 12 seconds later. We had trouble finding any rhythm.”
“I thought that was a turning point in the game,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “It swayed things in our favor.”
Maine’s next goal appeared as thought it would put the River Hawks away. Dimitrakos faked a shot from the left faceoff circle to freeze St. John. He slid the puck over to Robert Liscak in the low slot for a one-timer on the power play at 9:07.
“I was going to shoot until I saw their defenseman turn his back on me,” Dimitrakos said. “I knew that all [Liscak] needed to do was redirect it.”
Freshman defenseman Matt Deschamps made it 5-1 at 7:54 of the third period when he slammed home his own rebound after St. John had made an acrobatic diving save.
UML made an attempt at a comeback with two goals from Ed McGrane at 7:54 and 13:53, but it was too little, too late. Reimann completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal with 52 seconds left to close things out.
“There were three times when I was in the right place at the right time,” said Reimann. “My line mates set up well tonight.”
“I [thought] our guys competed,” Whitehead said. “We beat a very good hockey team tonight. We played well from start to finish. They came on in the third, but we were able to hang on and finish it.”
McDonald thought his team didn’t play as well as it could. “Whenever you’re not playing well, there’s a level of frustration. But you need to investigate why you’re not playing well and improve. We need to play better when the chips are down.”
UML will be playing a home-and-home series with UNH on Friday and Saturday, starting at Tsongas Arena. Maine will host Boston University in a Hockey East battle at Alfond Arena on Friday.