ORONO, Me. — Maine forward Kyle Beattie and Merrimack defenseman Dan Kolomatis both scored for their respective teams, while Maine goaltender Martin Ouellette and Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta made 26 and 32 saves, respectively, as the Black Bears and Warriors tied 1-1 on Friday night.
According to Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy, neither team was willing to give an inch.
“It was like the first couple rounds of a heavyweight fight,” said Dennehy. “It was like they were feeling each other out and there wasn’t a lot going on.”
The first period was a quiet one, with Merrimack out-shooting the Black Bears 8-7 with only one penalty called.
“We were a little tentative, we were a little nervous,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “I thought we played with a lot more poise starting in the second all the way into overtime.”
Merrimack had control of the puck for the majority of the period, but Maine forward Joey Diamond gave the Black Bears a couple of excellent scoring opportunities in from of the Warriors’ net.
With eight minutes gone in the period, Diamond streaked down the right side and passed to the center, but forward Ben Hutton could not control the pass.
Merrimack forward Kyle Singleton provided Maine a five-on-four advantage when he was caught tripping 16:54 into the first period. However, Maine’s nine percent power-play efficiency didn’t fare well when the Warriors cleared the puck every time the Black Bears brought it over the blue line.
The action picked up in the second period, with Maine forward Devin Shore gaining a one-on-one right away. Shore started on the right side and moved over to the left side of the net. Marotta stuck his leg pad out at the last second to prevent the Black Bears from taking a 1-0 lead.
The Warriors didn’t waste any time taking advantage of their own scoring opportunity when they went on the power play 1:16 into the period after Maine forward Jake Rutt was called for interference.
Just as the power play expired, Merrimack forward Shawn Bates fed Kolomatis 3:16 into the period to put the Warriors up 1-0.
“It all started with [Merrimack forward John Gustafsson],” Kolomatis said. “He passed it to me for an outlet, I skated up the ice and dished it off to [Bates], it may have hit off his skate, came back through the defender’s legs and off my stick. I saw a little hole on the short side. I didn’t see anyone coming up for a rebound, so I thought I’d just shoot it.”
Maine had its own power-play opportunity to score 11:39 into the period when Merrimack forward Josh Meyers went to the penalty box.
Maine forward Adam Shemansky had the best opportunity with a wide-open slap shot, but it hit the right post and the score remained at 1-0.
The Black Bears’ equalizer came by way of a Beattie drive-and-shoot from the right side in the third period. With 9:59 gone in the period, Beattie skated past the Warriors’ defenders and slipped one past Marotta to tie the game at one goal apiece.
“I was trying to get [Diamond] on the far side [because] he was pretty open,” Beattie said. “The goalie stuck his stick out and the puck hit it and it ended up going in.”
“It was a nice play, I think he meant to do it,” said Marotta. “He came in on the right side, hit it against my chest, it ping-ponged around myself and it ended up in the back of the net.”
With neither team able to score a game-winner in regulation, the Black Bears and Warriors went into overtime. Each team went on the power play in the extra period.
Just over a minute into overtime, Diamond was called for hitting from behind, but Maine killed the penalty off with no harm done.
Diamond came back on the ice and provided the best chance for the Black Bears to get their first home win of the season. With a three-on-two developing, Diamond took the puck from the right side of the net to the left and looked to have an opening to attempt a shot, but he chose to keep possession and try a wrap-around which Marotta thwarted.
“Really hard-fought game, I guess we’ll take any points we can get at this point,” said Whitehead. “We fought back, we were down 1-0, got the equalizer. I thought we were going to get that game-winner a couple times, especially that one time in overtime.”
Kolomatis went to the box for Merrimack with 45 seconds to play, but the Warriors successfully killed the penalty and preserved the 1-1 tie.
“There was a time where Merrimack getting a point at the Alfond Arena was worth dying for, so a point is a point,” Dennehy said.
“Any point in the Hockey East is a point won, but of course, you’d like to have two points there,” Marotta added.