BANGOR, Maine — Friday night’s game between Maine and Massachusetts-Lowell had an abundance of two things: penalties and goals.
The River Hawks got the better of both categories, scoring two power-play goals and a short-handed goal in the 5-3 rout of the Black Bears at the Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears fall to 3-5-1 on the season and 3-4 in Hockey East, while the River Hawks improve to 4-3 and an even 2-2 in the conference.
“We’re pleased to get some points in a hostile environment,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin.
“This loss is embarrassing for us,” said Maine forward Joey Diamond. “You can’t show up to the Alfond and play like that in front of these fans, they don’t deserve it. We have to realize this is Maine hockey and it’s unacceptable to play like that.”
Lowell center Matt Ferreira led the River Hawks with two goals, while Diamond matched him with two, the first possibly the goal of the year.
“We’re starting to play aggressive,” Ferreira said. “We’re starting to find our scoring touch and in our last two games, we put in 12 goals. It’s going well for us right now, so hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow.”
The Black Bears’ starting five finished with a combined minus-13, as they couldn’t put their mark on the game.
“Our top guys tried to do too much, and that burned us at [Boston College], too,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “When our top five tries to do too much and not stick to the game plan — they can’t do it all themselves. They need to simplify their
game. They struggled.”
The River Hawks got on the board during one of their first rushes. After a great save by goalie Martin Ouellette on a Scott Wilson shot, Josh Holmstrom beat him on the follow up.
The Black Bears managed to tie it up 6six minutes into the period after defender Ryan Hegarty made a terrific pass from Maine’s faceoff circle to Lowell’s blue line, finding center Stu Higgins who only had to beat one defender before finding the net
past Doug Carr.
“Ryan set me up, I was at full speed and the defender was flat-footed,” Higgins said. “I could go either left or right and had a free lane to the net. At the time, it was like nothing I felt before, but looking back on it now, it’s tough to swallow
Maine had a chance to take the lead, gaining their first power play eight minutes into the period after forward Joseph Pendenza was tagged for hooking. However, the man-advantage went terribly wrong after Ouellette tried to clear the puck, passing it
directly to Ferreira, who slid the puck into the open net.
It would be an early night for Ouellette, who was soon pulled after allowing a third goal in the period, a power-play effort to center Riley Wetmore.
After a hooking penalty by Maine forward Andrew Cerretani, Wetmore found the smallest of openings past Ouellette, giving the River Hawks a 3-1 lead.
Dan Sullivan replaced Ouellette in the Black Bears’ net.
During four-on-four play late in the period, the Black Bears came back to within one after a highlight reel-worthy goal by Diamond. Sullivan found center Brian Flynn, who hit an in-stride Diamond who carried the puck all the way into the crease with
a defender riding him, turned his back to the net and pushed the puck behind him and past a Lowell defender and Carr.
“Flynny made a pass and I kind of had a breakaway to the net. Their guy was leaning on me pretty hard and I didn’t have much to do with it, so I stopped short in front of the net and had nothing else to do,” Diamond said. “I was fortunate enough for
it to hit the net.”
What the second period lacked in scoring it made up for in penalty minutes, with over half of the 20 minutes being played with special teams.
Lowell had a huge opportunity on the power play after Higgins was booked for hitting from behind, a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The Black Bears came away from the power play unscathed and had their chance with a man-advantage seconds later when forward Michael Budd was called for obstruction.
“We had a five-minute major power play and didn’t score [and] I thought the next two-minute penalty kill was a big, big deal,” Bazin said. “Our guys took a little momentum from that kill, to be honest with you, because they felt a little sorry for themselves for not scoring. I thought that was a big momentum swing.”
The next Black Bears’ penalty was costly, as the River Hawks took a two-goal advantage in the third period after defender Brice O’Connor was booked for cross-checking.
A minute-and-a-half into the power play, Wilson skated through the Maine crease and backhanded the shot past Sullivan.
The River Hawks sealed the game midway through the third period, capitalizing on a lazy Maine turnover in their zone for Ferreira to connect on his second goal of the game, giving Lowell a comfortable 5-2 lead.
“When you get a one- or two-goal lead, it’s important to keep adding on and not taking your foot off,” Ferreira said. “It was a big goal for our team to keep the momentum and put them away.”
“I can’t say I felt very comfortable with a two-goal lead,” Bazin said. “I felt more comfortable with a three-goal lead.”
Diamond added a second in the final three minutes, but it was too little, too late.
Each team hits the ice Saturday night for the series finale at 7 p.m. EST.