AMHERST, Mass. — No. 16 UMass (17-11-5, 14-9-3 Hockey East) kept its home-ice hopes alive by virtue of Friday’s 3-1 win over No. 9 Maine (21-11-2, 14-11-1 HEA). David Leaderer brought the Minutemen back from a 1-0 deficit to tie the game before Cory Quirk notched the game winner in the second period and Scott Crowder iced the game with his tally in the third.
With Vermont’s loss to Massachusetts-Lowell, only the Black Bears or Minutemen can take the final home-ice spot. UMass needs a win or tie Saturday to bring the playoffs back to Amherst.
Maine opened the game up at 3:24 with Josh Soares’ 19th goal of the season, picking up his own rebound and putting the second shot high past Jon Quick. Teddy Purcell picked up an assist on the play that gave the Black Bears the 1-0 lead.
Leaderer evened it up at with a backhander at 7:39, his fourth of the season. Chris Davis made the play possible, pushing off a Maine player to give Leaderer the puck between the circles. Matt Anderson also picked up a helper on the goal, marking his third consecutive game with a point. Davis’ point was his first since Jan. 27 vs. BU, while Leaderer put up his fourth point in two contests.
Mike Kostka hit a pipe midway through the second, but UMass made it count minutes later on the power play with Quirk’s 12th of the season. Chris Capraro held the puck along the far boards before making a diagonal pass to Kostka near the faceoff circle. The defenseman slid the puck up to Quirk at the crease, with the shot slowly crossing the line at 10:09.
Maine hit a pipe and had a chance to tie it up with the rebound coming out to the side of the UMass crease — following that up moments later with another hit post — but couldn’t come up with the equalizer and UMass skated into the locker room with the 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Crowder picked an excellent time to score his first goal of the season, making good at 4:08 of the third to make it 3-1 Minutemen. His shot from inside the circle beat goaltender David Wilson over the shoulder, while Kostka picked up his second assist of the night. Kostka now has three points in three games after his back-to-back empty netters vs. Northeastern.
Maine head coach Tim Whitehead pulled Wilson with 1:35 remaining but UMass held on for the win, its 11th at the Mullins Center this season. That ties the school’s all-time mark for home wins since the Minutemen joined Hockey East in 1994-95.
Final shots were 37-28 in favor of the Minutemen. Quick ended the night with 27 saves; Wilson made 34. UMass was 1-for-3 on the power play, while Maine went 0-for-3.
The regular-season series with Maine concludes Saturday night at the Mullins Center with opening faceoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Seniors Matt Anderson, Chris Capraro, Kevin Jarman and Mark Matheson will all be honored pregame.