ORONO, Maine — In a 60-minute hockey game, a five-minute span decided everything between the University of Maine and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Three River Hawks’ goals in five minutes during the third period helped secure the weekend sweep of the Black Bears, as Mass.-Lowell got the best of Maine, 4-3.
The River Hawks improve to 5-3 on the season and 3-2 in Hockey East, while the Black Bears fall to 3-6-1 and 3-5 in conference.
“I thought we played with a lot more urgency; [the third] was certainly our best period,” said Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “We were the beneficiaries from the opposition hitting three or four posts. We kind of stole some points tonight, and I’m aware of that.”
“A lot of things came together in the wrong way for us,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, stoic as he addressed the media during post-game. “A combination of a bunch of things, penalties, posts, etc. but in the end, Lowell was the better team.”
The Maine players were not made available for comment.
Whitehead switched the starting lines, sending out forwards Theo Andersson, Klas Leidermark, and Mark Anthoine, along with defenders Ryan Hegarty and Mark Nemec.
It was an obvious statement to the starting five that played poorly the night before, combining for a minus-12.
Each side made sure to finish every and all checks early on, with Maine gaining the first opportunity on a one-timer by center Brian Flynn off a nice pass from forward Joey Diamond.
The River Hawks had their first chance on a power play five minutes into the period after defender Mark Nemec was called for slashing, but Maine killed it.
Maine had their first opportunity with the man advantage just over eight minutes into the period, when Lowell center Riley Wetmore was booked for roughing, but the Black Bears weren’t able to capitalize.
Shortly after the power play however, Will O’Neill lined up a shot from the blue line that traveled through traffic in front of Lowell goalie Doug Carr before Brian Flynn tipped it past him. It was Flynn’s team-leading 13th point of the season.
Maine forward Matt Mangene followed it up with a clanker off the post, as Mangene was making his first start of the season on the offensive line.
Midway through the second period, the Black Bears started to regain their composure, as defender Brice O’Connor came close to doubling Maine’s lead, but his shot bounced off the crossbar.
The first penalty of the second period came in favor of the Black Bears, as Lowell center Matt Ferreira was booked for boarding. Carr started the power play off beautifully, stopping a one-timer by forward Spencer Abbott. However, he couldn’t finish the power play off unscathed, as Maine forward Mark Anthoine deked past Carr and backhanded the puck in for Maine’s second goal of the game.
If it wasn’t for Carr, the Black Bears would have a wider lead entering the final frame, as the sophomore stopped two consecutive shots from Nemec and Flynn, the latter a sprawling save with the right pad.
The River Hawks figured out whatever was causing them problems in the first two periods, scoring three goals in less than five minutes in the third.
Wetmore scored his first of two-straight goals five minutes into the final period after an interference penalty on Hegarty.
Wetmore put in his second on a rebound off of Derek Arnold’s shot.
“Fortunately it bounced off the post, and I was sitting right there,” Wetmore said.
The River Hawks took the lead less than a minute later, as forward Scott Wilson got by Hegarty and fired a shot past Sullivan.
“We came to a consensus that the type of effort we gave in the first two periods wasn’t enough,” Bazin said. “We came out with more urgency, and were able to convert on special teams, which helped the cause. We’ll take points on the road whenever we can get them.”
The Black Bears fought back, tying things up with eight minutes remaining with a power-play goal by Diamond. After Ferreira was called for holding, Diamond tipped in Flynn’s shot.
The River Hawks got the last goal with less than a minute remaining, as a counterattack for the River Hawks resulted in a game-winning goal for defender Chad Ruhwedel.
“The puck got turned over and the next thing you know, we had a two-on-one,” Ruhwedel said. “I got behind the defenseman and Joe Pendenza made a great pass, and I took it from there. I would normally look for a pass, but their defenseman went down pretty early, so I was thinking about a shot high and just faked the shot and cut to the middle.”