ORONO – All the University of Maine men’s hockey team needed to earn home ice was a tie. Or a little help from a few other teams.

The Black Bears had to count on the latter in order to earn the fourth seed in the Hockey East playoffs.

The Black Bears lost 4-3 to Massachusetts Saturday night at Alfond Arena despite Brian Flynn’s goal with 30 seconds left in the third period. But the Black Bears earned home ice for the Hockey East quarterfinals by virtue of UMass-Lowell’s 1-1 tie with Vermont and Boston University’s 4-3 win over Northeastern.

Maine, Boston University and UMass-Lowell finished in a three-way tie for third place with 28 points and while BU holds the tiebreaker against Maine (2-1), Maine holds the tiebreaker against UMass-Lowell (2-1).

Maine will host UMass-Lowell in the best-of-three quarterfinals, which begins next weekend at Alfond Arena. The time and date of the first game is to be determined.

Maine clinched a playoff berth Feb. 27 with a 5-1 victory at Merrimack but needed at least a point out of the final series of the regular season to secure home ice for the postseason.

Maine (16-15-3, 13-12-2 Hockey East) closed the regular season winning only two of its final eight games, and got swept by the Minutemen in the final weekend of the regular season.

Casey Wellman and Justin Braun gave UMass (18-16, 13-14) a 2-0 lead in the first 12 minutes of the game, and Braun’s goal — with the teams playing four on four — forced Maine to replace starting goalie Shawn Sirman (three saves) with Dave Wilson at the 12-minute mark.

But Jeff Dimmen cut the Minutemen’s lead to 2-1 with 2:36 left in the first when he brought in the puck from the neutral zone, split a pair of defenseman and beat goalie Paul Dainton, who had 32 saves.

With Kevin Swallow penalized for boarding and Dimmen penalized for hitting from behind, UMass took a 3-1 lead with 47 seconds left in the first when Braun scored his second goal of the game on a shot from the top of the right circle.

Gustav Nyquist pulled the Black Bears within 3-2 at 2:13 of the second on a power-play goal, a shot from the top of the right circle, but Brett Watson stretched the UMass lead to 4-2 with 4:05 left in the second when he took a feed from Brian Keane and beat Wilson high on a backhand shot.

Maine was unable to convert a five-on-three opportunity with 11 minutes left in the game; three of Maine’s shots hit Dainton, and Dimmen’s shot from the left circle about halfway through the third period hit the post, before Flynn scored with 30 seconds left to cut the deficit to 4-3.

 

NOTES: Black Bears sophomore goalie Scott Darling was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, Laura Reed, Maine’s athletic director for public relations, said.

Maine’s four seniors — David deKastrozza, Kevin Swallow, Dave Wilson and Brett Carriere — were honored prior to the game and gave short speeches after the game while on the ice.

Maine was 2 for 5 on the power play to finish the regular season 56 for 190.

Nyquist, a sophomore right wing, finished the regular season with 18 goals and 38 assists and began the game as the nation’s scoring leader. Chase Polacek of Renssalaer Polytechnic was second with 25 goals and 26 assists.

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at:

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