ORONO, Maine — Massachusetts-Lowell senior left wing Kory Falite’s three-point game propelled the River Hawks to a 4-2 win Saturday night over the Maine Black Bears. The win gave the visitors a weekend split at Alfond Arena.
Falite scored two third-period goals, including the game-winner early in the frame, and registered his 100th career point with an assist on freshman center Riley Wetmore’s go-ahead goal in the second. His second goal put Maine away with 6:27 left in the third period. Falite has 14 career points against Maine, with eight goals and six assists.
“I don’t know what it is; I play well against them,” Falite said. “It’s nice to get (100 points). Not a lot of players get to do it.”
The River Hawks improved to 16-14-2 and 10-11-2 in Hockey East play. Maine fell to 15-12-3 (12-9-2 Hockey East). The Black Bears had won their previous seven home games, with the latest coming in an 8-4 triumph Friday night to take the season series.
“They won those one-on-one battles that we won last night,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “They really earned this victory.”
“They outworked us all over the ice,” Maine defenseman Jeff Dimmen said.
Falite gave Lowell a 3-1 cushion 1:40 into the third period when he swept in a rebound created by right wing Patrick Cey’s attempt to stuff the puck past Maine goaltender Scott Darling at the near post.
“(Darling) was kind of fumbling, and I just whacked at it and chipped it over his right pad,” Falite said.
A night after breaking Maine’s single-game scoring record with seven points, sophomore left wing Brian Flynn brought the Black Bears back within a goal midway through the third period with his sixth goal of the weekend. His wrister from the left point skimmed the crossbar over the shoulder of River Hawks goalie Carter Hutton.
Falite then put an exclamation point on his night with a rising wrister from the right point into the far corner that was aided by center Ben Holmstrom’s screen at the net-front.
“(Darling) didn’t even see it,” Falite said. “Benny was in front of me, and he had no chance of seeing it.”
Hutton shook off Friday’s loss, in which he allowed Maine’s last five goals in two-plus periods of relief of Nevin Hamilton, to turn away 24 shots. He improved to 10-10-0.
“He played really well,” Dimmen said. “He shut us down on the power-plays, and he was a big difference in the game.”
Lowell outshot Maine 31-26, and Darling made 27 saves while falling to 15-5-3.
“I was telling the guys, ‘Just get shots on him,’” Falite said. “We just capitalized on some opportunities.”
Wetmore scored his sixth goal of the season in the final minute of an otherwise scoreless second period to give the River Hawks a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Wetmore one-timed Falite’s pass out of the corner to the high slot through Darling’s five-hole.
“(Wetmore) found an open spot, and I just gave it to him,” Falite said.
The River Hawks are 13-1-2 when leading after two periods, while Maine is 1-9-1 when trailing in the same situation.
“We practice that a lot, playing with one-goal leads, and it’s nice to actually execute it,” Falite said.
After Maine managed to stay penalty-free throughout Friday’s game, they gave the River Hawks three power plays in the first period, while earning four of their own. Both teams were able to capitalize once in the period.
“We knew they were calling it tight from the start,” Falite said. “We really cleaned it up after that.”
Dimmen gave Maine a 1-0 lead 12:13 into the opening period with his seventh goal in Maine’s last eight games. Lowell gave Maine 2:36 of sustained power-play, including 11-seconds of five-on-three that expired just before Dimmen wound up for a one-timer from the mid-point. Dimmen nearly fanned on the shot, but Hutton lost track of the slow-moving puck in traffic and it snuck between his pads.
“I didn’t get all of it, and it kind of trickled in,” Dimmen said. “I think it hit off one of their guys’ skates.”
The River Hawks equalized 2:18 later as Maine left wing Mike Banwell watched from the penalty box. Defenseman Ryan Blair teed up a slap shot from the left point that rebounded out to right wing Colin Wright at the top of the crease where he slipped his shot past Darling.
Lowell went one-for-four with the man advantage, while Maine was one-for-five. Maine’s power play leads the nation.
“We felt pretty good about ourselves killing off a couple of power plays,” Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald said. “I thought we did a nice job, even though they did get a power-play goal. They’re very dangerous.”
Lowell will play a home-and-home next weekend against Providence. Maine travels to Merrimack.