ORONO – On display in the lobby of Alfond Arena on Friday night was the Hockey East championship trophy, along with a raffle to win tickets to this year’s tournament.
If Maine’s scoring struggles continue, a raffle might be the only way the Black Bears find themselves at TD Garden in Boston for the tournament in late March.
Maine rallied for a 1-1 overtime tie with conference rival Merrimack before 3,743, earning a point but remaining in the Hockey East cellar.
The Black Bears also remain winless at home, with three ties in 10 games.
“Obviously we want to give the fans a W, but we can’t think about that before the game and get off our game plan,” said Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, who finished with 25 saves. “We just have to do all the little things and it’s going to come.”
Friday marked the 19th time in 22 games the Black Bears were held to fewer than three goals. Maine senior Kyle Beattie ended a scoreless streak that had reached seven consecutive periods with a power-play goal midway through the third.
Beattie carried down the right side nearly to the goal line in the corner and sent what appeared to be a pass toward the crease. Instead the puck caromed off the stick shaft of Merrimack goalie Sam Marotta, who had shut out the Black Bears 6-0 last Saturday in North Andover, Mass., and ping-ponged into the net.
“It was a nice play,” Marotta said. “I think he meant to do it.”
Both Ouellette and freshman Bill Norman were credited with an assist. Beattie said he would like to take credit for a brilliantly executed bank shot, but, “I won’t give myself that much credit. I was trying to hit Joe (Diamond) on the far side. He was pretty open. Their goalie stuck his stick out and hit it, and fortunately it slid by him on the short side.”
Merrimack had taken a 1-0 lead early in the second period on a Dan Kolomatis wrist shot from the right dot with one second left in Merrimack’s first of four power plays.
Kolomatis had passed to teammate Shawn Bates, who was engaged with Maine’s Mark Nemec. The puck bounced off a skate and back to Kolomatis, who beat Ouellette above his glove to the short side for the only goal of the first two periods.
Maine held a 4-1 advantage in overtime shots, with a Beattie blast from the high slot coming closest to scoring.
Moments earlier, Diamond had emerged from the penalty box, circled behind Marotta and dumped a dangerous pass in front, to no avail.
“We thought we were going to get that winner a couple of times,” said Coach Tim Whitehead. “We got stronger as the game went on. We’ve got to build on that for (Saturday).”
Maine and Merrimack play Saturday night for the third time in eight days.
“It was like the first couple rounds of a heavyweight fight,” Merrimack Coach Mark Dennehy said, “that never really turned into much.”
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: