ORONO – The scene kept repeating itself as the University of Maine hockey players tried to drive the puck into the Massachusetts goal Saturday night.
The Minutemen stymied chance after chance.
UMass played inspired defense and got opportunistic scoring to beat the Black Bears 4-1 before 5,092 at Alfond Arena.
Joey Diamond’s goal closed Maine to 2-1 after 30 seconds of the third period, but Rocco Carzo answered at 11:44, and an empty-netter at 19:05 sealed it.
After being routed Friday night by Maine 7-3, UMass outhustled the Black Bears and outshot them, 23-22.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” Maine defenseman Will O’Neill said. “They played like we’ve been playing. They got to the loose pucks, they won shifts, they won the periods. They won the game.”
UMass used both an aggressive forecheck and a solid neutral zone trap to keep Maine away.
Kevin Boyle collected 21 saves for the Minutemen, who shut down all three of Maine’s power plays.
Maine (18-10-3, 13-9-2 in Hockey East) is now in fourth place in the league, a one point out of third and two points ahead of fifth-place Merrimack.
UMass (11-14-5, 7-12-4) moved into a tie for eighth place, which is the last playoff spot.
“We’re fighting for our lives,” said UMass Coach Toot Cahoon. “We’re an interesting team. We had a lot of energy left over from (Friday night).
“I thought we pressured the puck pretty well and our goaltender stood in there.”
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan made 19 saves and was part of a bizarre play that gave the Minutemen a 1-0 lead after 51 seconds.
Sullivan stopped the puck behind the Maine net for his teammates. But when Sullivan came out in front of the net, the puck was stuck in his skate.
When it came loose, Steve Guzzo was right there to stuff it in.
“That really charged them up,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “I thought they played with a lot of grit. They played with that desperation you need.
“We had plenty of time to come back, but we started trying to do things too much, individually. One guy skating all the way down the ice runs out of room and then tries to make a pass.
“We got away from our team game and it cost us.”
The Minutemen were outshot 8-5 in the first period but limited Maine to few quality opportunities, even though the Black Bears had two power plays.
Those Maine chances dwindled in the second period.
The Minutemen outshot the Black Bears 13-8, and grabbed a 2-0 lead on a power-play goal at 12:25.
Diamond’s goal was scored as he came around the net and shot while falling.
But UMass regained the momentum and control of the game.
NOTES: The Black Bears will travel to Northeastern next weekend for a series, then will return to the Alfond Arena on March 3 to play New Hampshire. That game will be aired by NESN and the time has been changed to 4 pm.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: