By KEVIN THOMAS
Staff Writer
ORONO — You don’t call a November hockey game a must-win. But the University of Maine’s home game Saturday night against UMass-Lowell was one the Black Bears really, really wanted.

They couldn’t deliver.

Ahead 2-0 after two periods, Maine gave up four third-period goals to lose 4-3 at Alfond Arena.

It’s the first time since 1985 that UMass-Lowell swept a two-game series in Orono.

The Black Bears (3-6-1, 3-5 Hockey East) have lost four straight.

UMass-Lowell (5-3, 3-2) took a 3-2 lead on three power-play goals.

Joey Diamond then tied it with a power-play score.

But with the teams skating four-on-four, Lowell defenseman Chad Ruhwedel broke in on a two-on-one break and roofed a shot past goalie Dan Sullivan with 34 seconds remaining.

Some fans quickly left. Some booed. And several just sat there stunned.

UMaine players were not made available to the media and, 25 minutes after the game,  reporters were told that Maine coaches were in a meeting.

Lowell Coach Norm Bazin said his team “played with more urgency in the third period. I thought our guys battled hard.”

Maine carried the play early, getting a goal in each of the first two periods, from Brian Flynn and Mark Anthoine.

And the Black Bears stayed out of the penalty box in the first two periods, picking up only one penalty.

That was key after allowing eight Lowell power plays on Friday.

But in the third period, Maine kept handing the River Hawks man advantages – including a crucial five-on-three.

The first Lowell power-play goal came when Riley Wetmore roofed a shot at 5:08.

Then came a penalty at 6:18 for too many men on the ice. On the penalty kill, Matt Mangene fell down and lost his stick. He grabbed a player’s leg and went off for holding at 7:20.

Lowell’s Wetmore scored during the five-on-three to tie the game. Scott Wilson then gave Lowell a 3-2 lead with his power-play goal at 9:00.

When Diamond deflected a Will O’Neill slap shot at 11:52, tying the game at 3, Maine got a bounce back in its step.

Maine freshman defenseman Jake Rutt of Scarborough, playing his first college game, created a scoring chance at 17:30 and drew a slashing penalty. But before play was stopped, Rutt was called for boarding, creating the four-on-four.

A Maine turnover gave the River Hawks a chance to win – and they did.

NOTES: The Black Bears play one game next weekend, Friday night at Massachusetts. … Maine’s next “home” game is Nov. 26 against Clarkson at the Cumberland County Civic Center. … Today’s Hockey East marquee game features Boston University at Boston College at 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network).

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:
[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH