ORONO – The frustration continues for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.
The Black Bears lost 2-1 Friday night to Vermont in a nationally-televised Hockey East game before a crowd of 4,004 at Alfond Arena, which has yet to see the home team victorious in seven dates this season.
Vermont (3-7-2 overall, 3-5-2 Hockey East) had lost three in a row and has yet to score more than three goals in a game.
Maine (2-10-1, 1-6-1) had won and tied its previous two games, and was coming off a two-week break. The Black Bears, who pulled goalie Martin Ouellette with a little over a minute remaining, saw an apparent tying goal by Jake Rutt with 6.5 seconds left disallowed after a video review showed Joey Diamond in contact with Vermont goalie Brady Hoffman in the crease.
“I can’t comment on that goal,” Diamond said. “I thought we had a good effort, but obviously it wasn’t enough. You’ve got to give all the credit to Vermont. They played a great game.”
The Black Bears remain last of 10 teams in Hockey East.
It was 1-1 entering the penalty-free third period. Vermont freshman Robert Polesello made his first collegiate goal the game-winner at 7:44 of the period, beating Ouellette high on the glove side after teammate Chris McCarthy carried the puck deep down the left wing.
Ouellette finished with 31 saves, as did Hoffman.
“This is probably the loudest building we’ve played in this year; they have great fans here,” said UVM Coach Kevin Sneddon. “(Hoffman) just doesn’t get fazed by it. The confidence without overconfidence is big in that position.”
The game began an hour after its original 7 p.m. scheduled start because of its broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Viewers saw a pair of teams that have struggled out of the gate, particularly on offense. Vermont ranks 57th in the nation in scoring and Maine is 58th of the 59 schools playing Division I hockey.
The Catamounts had the better chances early. Kyle Reynolds caught Maine in a line change and skated in alone on Ouellette, only to see his backhand attempt thwarted by the Maine goalie.
The third of three Vermont penalties in the opening period finally cost the Catamounts, as Diamond took a pass from Adam Shemansky and floated around the right faceoff circle looking for an opening. When he reached the slot, Diamond flicked a shot that deflected off the hip of a Vermont defenseman and inside the left post for a 1-0 Maine advantage with 3:07 left in the period.
It marked only the fourth power-play goal of the season for the Black Bears, and came on their 59th opportunity. It also marked the first power-play goal of the season for Diamond, who tied for the national lead in that category a year ago with 11.
Vermont tied it 1-1 in the fifth minute of the second period. After Steven Swavely blocked a shot and slid to the ice, the puck was momentarily lost underneath him. When it trickled free, UVM center Jacob Fallon poked it back to defenseman Yvan Pattyn at the blue line, and Pattyn’s slap shot zipped through traffic to the back of the net.
It remained that way into the third, despite a 3:12 stretch during which the Catamounts were on a power play, including 48 seconds of a five-on-three advantage as Diamond and Brice O’Connor sat in the penalty box.
Ouellette, and the crossbar behind him, kept Vermont from taking the lead, however. Maine wound up killing off three penalties in the second period and failed to convert its lone power play.
“We did some good things,” said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead. “We scored on the power play. We held them scoreless on their power play. I thought one thing that hurt us was taking all the penalties in the second period. We lost the opportunity to retake the lead once they tied it.”
The two-game series with Vermont concludes Saturday night, with puck drop scheduled for 7. The Black Bears, who travel to Boston University next Saturday and to Florida for a post-Christmas tournament, don’t play again in Maine after Saturday until a Jan. 4 date with Mercyhurst at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.
“It’s tough right now, but we’re just going to keep moving forward,” Diamond said. “We’re playing (Saturday) night. That’s a good thing for us.”
NOTES: Freshman forward Ryan Lomberg is serving a three-game suspension for violating team rules. Replacing him on the third line with fellow freshmen Will Merchant and Devin Shore was sophomore Andrew Cerretani.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: