ORONO, Maine — The Maine Black Bears negated a 2-0 first period deficit for the second straight night and stormed past the Hockey East leading New Hampshire Wildcats, 6-3, in the rubber match of the season series Saturday at Alfond Arena. Maine swept the weekend set after losing an October game in New Hampshire.
Maine freshman left wing Joey Diamond’s power-play goal 4:36 into the third period was the eventual game-winner. He snuck in from the corner in front of UNH goaltender Brian Foster and tipped in a wrister from the right point by junior defenseman Jeff Dimmen.
“I knew as long as I kept getting chances, at least one of them was going to go in,” Diamond said. “I got that chance.”
Maine improved to 14-9-3 and 11-6-2 in Hockey East play. They trail UNH by three points in the conference standings. The Wildcats fell to 13-10-4 (12-5-3 HEA) and have lost three of their last four games.
“We got beat,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “I’m not going to take anything away from them. They found a way to win the game. We went ahead twice and couldn’t hold onto it.”
UNH brought the game back within one goal 9:19 into the third period after surrendering four consecutive Maine goals. Junior center Phil DeSimone beat Maine goalie Scott Darling with a backhander in the slot.
Maine sophomore left wing Brian Flynn iced the game at 5-3 with his second goal of the game with 1:48 left. He stuffed his ninth goal of the season through Foster’s five-hole on a breakaway. Junior center Tanner House added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
“We’ve grown a ton since the beginning of the season,” Flynn said. “To hold them to five goals this weekend, I think is a big accomplishment.”
Darling made 27 saves to improve to 14-3-3. Foster made 34 saves, while falling to 12-10-4.
“The guys played great in front of me tonight,” Darling said. “I didn’t have my best game, but we got the win.”
In both weekend games, UNH let Maine back in the game with a second period power-play goal. Maine scored two goals within a minute to even the game at 2-2.
“We didn’t come out as well as we would have liked tonight,” Flynn said. “We kind of willed this one out.”
Maine sophomore center Theo Andersson scored the go-ahead goal with 1:31 remaining in the second period when he whacked in a centering pass from the corner by senior right wing Kevin Swallow at the top of the crease. It was Andersson’s third goal of the season.
“The puck came out, and I just kind of ripped it in,” Andersson said. “I got lucky I guess.”
Flynn banked in a power-play goal off Foster’s back to put Maine on the scoreboard 6:46 into the second period. Junior center Robby Dee followed with his tenth goal of the season and second of the weekend 57-seconds later, when he finished a rebound at the doorstep.
Maine went two-for-four on the power play while shutting UNH out on four chances. The Wildcats went 0-for-seven with the extra skater on the weekend.
UNH struck on a breakout 8:27 into the first period to open the scoring. Freshman right wing John Henrion carried the puck into the Maine zone and flicked a wrister over Darling’s glove.
Senior center Peter Leblanc gave UNH a 2-0 lead 1:30 before the end of the first period when he beat Darling with a snap shot in the slot. Just seconds after the Wildcats killed off Maine’s second power play of the period, LeBlanc snuck behind the defense and took a centering pass from sophomore right wing Stevie Moses.
Maine had a scare when top scorer Gustav Nyquist left the ice late in the second period favoring his leg. He returned at the start of the third.