BOSTON — Maine captain Brian Flynn redirected a Joey Diamond shot that beat New Hampshire goaltender Casey DeSmith at 1:29 of overtime to cap off a wild day of hockey at Fenway Park and give the Black Bears a 5-4 victory.
The victory, in front of a capacity crowd of 38,456, was the second overtime win of the day at Sun Life Frozen Fenway. UMass beat Vermont, 3-2 in overtime, in Saturday’s opener. It also extends Maine’s winning streak to four games and eight of the last nine for the Black Bears.
Flynn’s goal came of a cycling play in the Maine offensive zone. Linemate Spencer Abbott dug the puck out of the left wing corner and found Diamond in the high slot. He fired a shot that Flynn aptly deflected in the air and over DeSmith’s head.
“I just crashed the net and [the puck] fortunately just hit my stick,” said Flynn, who grew up in nearby Lynnfield, Mass., and admits to being a lifelong Red Sox fan.
The goal sent the enthusiastic Black Bears faithful from near and far, many of whom made the six-hour trek from Orono, in a frenzy.
It also capped off what was a wild game with massive momentum swings.
New Hampshire opened the scoring early, as Jon Henrion fired a juicy rebound past Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan (20 saves) at 1:05 of the first for an early 1-0 lead.
The Black Bears settled things down and evened the game shortly thereafter. While on the power play, Kyle Beattie centered a pass that Mark Anthoine quickly one-timed past DeSmith (28 saves) at 4:10.
The Wildcats got into penalty trouble in the second period, taking three consecutive minors midway through. That set of the game’s first major momentum swing.
UNH’s Kevin Goumas, forechecking while the Wildcats were two men down, stole the puck from Flynn and beat Sullivan on a breakaway at 11:27.
Maine responded immediately, though, at cashed in on the 5-on-3. Diamond redirected a quick feed from Abbott at 11:44 to again knot the game. Anthoine then buried his second of the night 50 seconds later giving Maine a 3-2 lead through two.
Diamond said that despite giving up the sinful shorthanded goal, he knew head coach Tim Whitehead remained confident in his top power play.
“We were confident,” said Diamond. “We looked back at coach when they scored and there was no chance he was taking us off the ice on that play. He knew we were going to come back and get a goal.”
Early in the third, it looked like the Black Bears might put the game away. Diamond netted his second of the night just 13 second into the frame, taking a no-look pass and walking in alone on DeSmith for the 4-2 lead.
The Wildcats, though, didn’t quit and within four-and-a-half minutes tied the game. Goumas became the third player to get his second goal of the game at 3:00. One minute, 43 second later, Grayson Downing’s centering pass hit a Black Bear defender in front and trickled inside the right post to again even the game and set up Flynn’s dramatics.
Maine finished the night 3-for-5 on the power play and killed both New Hampshire penalties, something that Whitehead called critical to his team’s success.
“There really weren’t a lot of power plays, so to be able to score three goals was huge,” Whitehead said. “At the same time, we shut down their opportunities which was equally as important.”
With both teams hungry for the league win, each said it didn’t take long to put the venue and atmosphere out of their minds and focus on the game. At the same time, though, each acknowledged how special the night was.
“It was a great atmosphere,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “We’re disappointed, but the Frozen Fenway was a great success.”
“What a great night with both games going to OT,” added Whitehead. “It really was a great atmosphere. It was electric in there. It was a great experience for all our guys and we’re pleased to get the last bounce.”