ORONO, Me. — Maine hosted Vermont Friday night in an attempt to gain two points and move out of the Hockey East cellar.
Two UVM freshmen scored the first goals of their careers before Maine defenseman Jake Rutt appeared to have scored a game-tying goal with six seconds to play before the referees waved it off, allowing UVM to skate away with a 2-1 victory.
“It was a hard-fought game and there is not much to say,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I’m not going to comment on the last goal.”
“I thought both teams left it all out there, both teams battled hard, it was kind of like a playoff-style game,” Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon said. “We were fortunate at the end to have the call go our way [and] I think they made the right call looking at it.”
The Black Bears were only 3-for-56 on the power play coming into the game, but used special teams effectively in the first period to get on the board first.
UVM forward H.T. Lenz was called for holding 15:50 into the first period and Maine took advantage as one minute later, Joey Diamond scooted one past UVM goaltender Brody Hoffman for his second goal of the year and give the Black Bears an early 1-0 lead.
The second period brought an increase in physical play as seven penalties were called in the period. Scuffles seemed to be occurring after almost every single play, leading the referees to grab the captains from both teams after the period to talk.
With 4:51 gone in the second period, Maine goalie Martin Ouellette blocked a shot and the deflection went out into a group of players. Two players fell fighting over the puck and UVM forward Jacob Fallon passed the loose puck to defenseman Yvan Pattyn, who shot the puck through a crowd and it ended up in the net, tying the game at one goal apiece.
Two minutes later, a shot deflected off Ouellette’s pad and went straight up in the air and seemed to be headed in, but Ouellette batted the puck out of the danger zone to preserve the 1-1 tie.
After Diamond and defenseman Brice O’Connor were sent the box to give the Catamounts a five-on-three advantage, Vermont defenseman Nick Luukko had a prime opportunity to give UVM a lead when Ouellette got caught far outside the goaltender’s crease, but Luukko’s shot went wide right.
In the third period, UVM kept Maine out of the offensive zone while extending its lead.
Catamount forward Robert Polesello was assisted by forward Chris McCarthy 7:44 into the third period to give UVM a 2-1 lead.
“At first, I thought it just hit the crossbar, but then I saw it drop in and I was pretty excited,” Polesello said. “I saw that [Maine] was making a line change and the [defense] was late, so I saw a gap through the middle.”
“I was pleased we got a couple of first goals for our guys, especially Polesello,” Sneddon said. “He thrives on offense and wants to be a contributor and the team is not scoring a lot. As a freshman, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and it was nice for him to get his first collegiate goal and hopefully, it’s the first of many.”
The 2-1 score stood until Rutt fired a desperation slap shot from the blue line on the left side and had apparently tied the game. The referees reviewed the play and determined that Diamond was in contact with Hoffman, keeping the score at 2-1.
“That was my fifth or sixth reviewed goal this year and I’ve had two or three go each way, so I was just trying to stay calm,” Hoffman said. “[The first road win] is huge, but it’s nothing if we don’t come out and play well tomorrow.”
“I thought we had a good effort, but obviously, it wasn’t enough,” said Diamond. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Vermont, they played a great game and their goalie played great. We’ve had trouble this year putting together a full 60 minutes. It’s tough right now, but we have to just keep moving forward.”
“Each guy’s got to look to improve tomorrow night,” Whitehead added. “We’ve got to keep working to get better. We did some good things, we scored on our power play and we kept them from scoring on their power play. One thing that hurt us was taking the penalties in the second period. We lost opportunities to extend the lead or when it was tied to take the lead.”