ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine Black Bears looked to pick up their first home win of the year Friday night against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Friday night, but UMass defenseman Conor Allen tied the game after the Black Bears led the first 59 minutes, and the Black Bears and Minutemen tied 2-2.
Maine was ranked last in Hockey East in goals scored, goals allowed, penalty minutes, and power-play efficiency coming into the game, while UMass, which lost to Boston College in a pair of one-goal games and defeated the University of New Hampshire, was ranked fifth or better in all of those categories.
After going 1-1 during the University of Massachusetts-Lowell series, Maine goaltender Martin Oullette was tabbed as the starter by coach Tim Whitehead.
UMass took control of the puck in the early going, out-shooting Maine 5-0 in the first five minutes. Fortunes changed for Maine later in the period after a double penalty was called on Maine forward Joey Diamond and UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko. With 7:39 gone in the first period, Maine freshman Devin Shore assisted defenseman Mark Nemec in scoring his second goal of the year during the four-on-four to put the Black Bears up 1-0.
UMass forward Steven Guzzo was called for high-sticking 8:20 into the first period, giving Maine a four-on-three advantage. Maine score only its third power-play goal of the season out of 52 tries 9:21 into the first period when Jake Rutt blasted a slap shot by UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle.
“When we get [a power-play goal] this season, it’s kind of an event,” Whitehead said.
Ouellette shutout the Minutemen in the first period stopping all 11 UMass shots on goal.
The Minutemen cut the lead in half in the second period as UMass was took advantage of its own power-play opportunity. The penalty that enabled UMass to score on the power play was Diamond’s goaltender interference penalty 13:08 into the second period. Guzzo was assisted by forwards Patrick Kiley and Troy Power at 14:54.
Diamond, who broke the Maine record for career penalty minutes in the game, disagreed with the call.
“It’s what he saw, and obviously I don’t agree with the call; they kind of have it out for me a little bit, but that’s fine,” Diamond said. “It’s just something I have to play through.”
Maine held the lead and kept the Minutemen at bay for the entire third period until UMass pulled its goaltender with just over one minute to play in the game and Allen scored for UMass unassisted to tie the game at two.
“We had six guys out there; I knew someone would be in the slot,” said UMass forward Rocco Carzo about the deflection before Allen’s goal.
“They were able to score first and then they were able to score second,” said UMass coach John Micheletto. “I wanted to stress to my guys at the end of the game you can’t play the scoreboard. Whether you’re up a goal, down a goal, down two, it doesn’t matter. Honestly, we wanted the two points, but we were down, second period we weren’t playing well, but we battled back.”
Neither Maine nor UMass could make any serious moves in the extra period until the Minutemen went on a power play after Rutt was called for slashing 3:52 into overtime. Ouellette stopped all of the UMass shots on goal before Maine went on a final offensive, but Boyle stopped the Black Bears and the game ended with a 2-2 tie.
“[That penalty kill] was big, it was very big, very important, a tough situation to be in, these guys handed it well, it was a tough series to be in, that penalty kill series, but it turned out to be a big positive,” Whitehead said. “I thought Martin was the biggest positive, he established himself, and I was very impressed with his performance. It feels like a loss after you have a lead and the other team ties it but it was hard-fought; it could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we only got one point out of it.”
“It was a point lost. We had a two-nothing lead, and at the Alfond that should be a win,” Rutt said. “The third period I thought we played pretty well, but we couldn’t generate enough offense. Marty played a hell of a game. They outplayed us, you [have to] give credit to them.”
Ouellette saved 30 shots for the Black Bears while Boyle saved 27 on the night, as Maine’s record goes to 2-9-1 (1-5-1 Hockey East) and UMass goes to 3-4-1 (2-4-1 Hockey East).