ORONO, Me. — Maine finally picked up its first home win of the season against the No. 13 Massachusetts-Lowell Sunday afternoon as Joey Diamond scored his fourth goal of the weekend 3:59 into overtime and goaltender Martin Ouellette turned aside 35 shots – seven in overtime – to give Maine a 4-3 victory.
The win also moves Maine into eighth place in Hockey East, putting the Black Bears in playoff position.
“We’ve been building slowly, but surely, last weekend was a huge jump for us, especially on the road at [Boston College], but this weekend was more important because we hadn’t won at home [and] I’m just happy we could get that monkey off of our back,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
“It felt great, almost like a playoff game,” Diamond said. “The fans are unbelievable; they’ve been sticking by us all year. I knew we weren’t going to go winless at the Alfond this year. The way we did it in overtime, battling back, it’s definitely a memorable night in the Alfond.”
The Black Bears looked to take the lead just over two minutes into the game when forwards Adam Shemansky and Devin Shore had a breakaway after Shemansky stole the puck. Shemansky shot high and Shore poked the rebound in and it appeared Maine took a 1-0 lead.
After review, the referees determined Shore knocked the puck past UML goaltender Doug Carr with a high stick and the score remained 0-0.
Diamond did give the Black Bears the lead 9:50 into the first period after weaving through the River Hawks’ defense.
The lead did not last long as UMass-Lowell forward Terrence Wallin and defenseman Zack Kamrass assisted forward Micheal Fallon 14 seconds later in scoring the game-tying goal.
The penalties stacked up in the second period, with six being called between the Black Bears and River Hawks. Four of the penalties resulted in power-play goals.
Maine defenseman Brice O’Connor was called for boarding 6:14 into the second period, giving the River Hawks a five-on-four advantage. During the power play, UMass-Lowell forwards Ryan McGrath and Derek Arnold assisted fellow forward Riley Wetmore in giving the River Hawks a 2-1 lead.
The Black Bears answered back with their own power-play goal after UML defenseman Christian Folin was called for hooking. Maine defenseman Jake Rutt and Shore assisted forward Ryan Lomberg 13:23 into the second period to tie the game at 2-2.
With two goals already scored by way of power play in the period, the Black Bears looked to be in trouble when they faced a five-on-three situation after Rutt and defenseman Conor Riley were sent to the box 25 seconds apart.
Rutt’s penalty expired with no harm done to Maine, but with five seconds remaining on Riley’s penalty, Kamrass and Folin assisted McGrath 16:08 into the second period to put the River Hawks up 3-2.
Only 20 seconds after the goal, Wetmore gave Maine a power-play opportunity after committing an interference penalty. Just 20 seconds after the penalty was called, Rutt made amends for his earlier penalty by tying the game at 3-all 16:48 into the second period.
“Coach [Whitehead] knows the UMass-Lowell system pretty well because they have an old assistant, so we kind of knew what we were going against,” said Rutt. “We just exploited what they did, took what they gave us and we got a couple that went in.”
The third period was calm, with no penalties being called. It was an evenly matched period as well, with both Ouellette and Carr saving nine shots apiece during the period.
Shore had a chance to win the game for Maine when he had a one-on-one to the net in the final seconds, but his backhand went just wide left of the net as time expired.
The River Hawks came out firing in the beginning of overtime. UMass-Lowell developed multiple two- and three-on-ones, but Ouellette stopped all seven attempts he saw during the extra period.
“I thought both goaltenders were equally good tonight,” UML coach Norm Bazin said. “It seems like every game in the Hockey East you run into a hot goalie.”
With 3:59 played in overtime, Diamond came off the bench during a line change, and stole the puck as the River Hawks were racing towards their offensive zone. With all of the UMass-Lowell players on the other side of the rink, Diamond had a wide open path to the net and got a shot off that went past Carr to give the Black Bears the victory.
“I came off the bench and was able to pick off the pass, come in alone, and beat the goalie,” explained Diamond. “I tried to get him sliding over, I was headed to the far post and was able to just stop short and he kept going. You want the win; any goal in overtime to get the win is good. It was special, it was my first overtime goal here at Maine and it’s definitely something I’m going to remember.”
“I thought it was a well-played hockey game, both teams had their chances to win,” added Bazin. “We didn’t close the hockey game out, we had two leads and couldn’t score another one to make it a two-goal lead, but credit to them. I, quite frankly, was encouraged. We played better than we did on Friday. This is a good college atmosphere, a hard-fought game on both sides, and tonight, frankly, we fell short.”
“Earlier in the year, that’s a game we don’t even tie, let alone win, so we had to fight back a couple times in the game,” Whitehead said. “When they scored, we weren’t fazed. We knew [Ouellette] was going to give us every opportunity to come back, which he did. That save he made in overtime lifted everybody up off the bench – it was fantastic. ‘We’ve gotta get one for Marty’ is what they were saying and Joey got it.”