ORONO, Maine — In an OT thriller, the University of Maine men’s hockey team managed a hard-fought win over Providence College, barely outlasting the Friars, 5-4.
With a little over two minutes left in extra time, Maine center Brian Flynn scored the game-winner in spectacular fashion — from his knees with the goal to his back.
“The puck hit someone on the rebound and came out front to me,” Flynn said of the goal. “I missed it, turned around, and it was behind me, and I just grabbed it with my forehand and spun around.”
“It was a heck of a one-on-one battle that their player won,” Providence coach Nate Leaman said. “I think their top-line had four of the five goals tonight. Clearly, they were pretty effective.”
Both teams improve to 2-2-1 on the season and 2-1 in Hockey East.
“I love the way we responded,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “We kept our cool; it was a good, hard hockey game that could have gone either way. We kept pushing and pushing to get that extra goal.”
After Adam Shemanksy had his shot blocked early on, the Friars followed it up with their first scoring chance, and made the best of it. David Brown fired a shot toward goalie Martin Oullette, who wasn’t able to corral it with the glove. Chris Rooney gathered it and beat Oullette for the game’s opening goal.
“It was back and forth,” Oullette said. “They played well and came back every time. I’d like to get that one back. I think it was the one goal I should have caught in my glove.
On a four-on-four, the Black Bears tied it up when Mike Cornell gathered the puck and rifled it past Providence goalie Alex Beaudry.
The score stayed even through the first half of the second period, until the Black Bears pulled ahead eight minutes deep. After chipping away in the Friars’ zone, Flynn wrapped around the net and found Joey Diamond in the crease, who tapped it past Beaudry. After a review, the goal stood.
Five minutes later, the Friars returned the favor after causing a turnover in the Black Bears’ zone. Rooney found Rob Maloney, who made a nice inside-out move past Oullette to backhand the second Providence goal.
After back-to-back double penalties, the Black Bears regained the lead on Diamond’s second goal of the game. Diamond secured possession and fired the puck from the right faceoff circle for the third Maine goal of the game.
The Black Bears fended off a late power play from Providence to take the 3-2 lead into the final frame.
The Friars did break through, but it was a Black Bears’ power play when they did so. Ten seconds after a Friars’ penalty for interference, Providence tied the score at three when Ross Mauermann wrapped around the Maine net and found Stefan Demopoulos in front of the net, who scored.
The Black Bears broke the tie again three minutes later, with Kyle Beattie picking up his second goal of the season. Ryan Hegarty fired a shot toward a crowded net, where Beattie was able to get a stick on it for Maine’s fourth goal.
Thirty seconds later, the Friars tied the score again, this time with Mauermann finding Cross for the Friars’ second goal of the period.
Just 10 seconds later, it seemed as though Maine found the winner after Spencer Abbott rocketed a shot past Beaudry. However, after a lengthy review, the goal was waved off due to goalie interference by Diamond.
“I was pushed in and I was trying to stop myself to stay out of the crease,” Diamond said. “I was trying my best not to make contact with the goalie, but I’ll have to look at it and see what actually happened. I don’t think I touched him too bad where he couldn’t make a save.”
The two teams went to overtime tied at four, with Providence gaining the best chance to score in the extra frame early on. With the puck deep in the Black Bears’ zone, Oullette tried to clear it, and shuffled back to his net just in time to make a kick-save.
With just over two minutes remaining in overtime, Flynn gave the Black Bears the win.
“It was a really weird play,” Beaudry said. “Must have been a pass or shot and it hit Flynn in front. I had a player in front doing a good job of boxing him out and getting him on the ground and somehow, he’s a great player, he got the puck on net.
“Hell of a game, really. I think five’s too many for me to give up, I think two or three would have done the job tonight. But that’s what we have to do is bounce back.”
The two teams meet again Saturday night at 7 p.m.