ORONO – Super Sunday? Yes, it was for the UMaine men’s hockey team.
At long last, the Black Bears recorded a win at Alfond Arena, 4-3 in overtime against UMass-Lowell.
After Maine fell short in its first 12 attempts (0-8-4) to get a home victory, senior captain Joey Diamond made sure the streak wouldn’t get to 13. His first-ever overtime goal with 1:01 remaining sent fans home happy for the first time this season.
“I came off the bench, stole a pass and deked the goalie,” said Diamond, who also scored two goals in the third period Friday night to rally the Black Bears to a 2-2 tie against Providence.
“We felt good about the way we ended that game and brought it in to today’s game, popped in a few goals. It’s great.”
Maine improved to 8-14-5 overall and climbed to eighth place in Hockey East at 4-9-5. The top eight teams make the league playoffs.
It was an eventful day for Diamond. He finished with two goals and an assist.
“I thought he was the best player on the ice today,” said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead.
Diamond also had a goal disallowed in the first period, on a two-man breakaway with Adam Shemansky. After goalie Doug Carr stopped Shemansky’s shot, Diamond batted in the rebound, but the referee quickly said no goal because of a high stick. A replay review confirmed the call.
Diamond put UMaine on top midway through the first, skating in from just inside the blue line, deking left, right and faking a shot. That pulled Carr out of position, and Diamond put the puck behind him for his team-leading ninth goal.
The lead lasted just 14 seconds. During a jam in front of Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, UMass-Lowell winger Michael Fallon swiped the puck into the net as he was falling down for his first goal of the season.
The second period turned into a battle of special teams. Each team committed three penalties and scored two power-play goals.
The River Hawks (14-8-2, 8-7-2) took advantage of a Bryce O’Connor penalty, peppering Ouellette. Riley Wetmore scored on a rebound to make it 2-1.
Maine tied it at 6:37. Jake Rutt fired a shot from the point and Ryan Lomberg tapped in the rebound.
UMass-Lowell grabbed a 3-2 lead late in the period as Maine tried to kill off a five-on-three disadvantage. The Black Bears got one player out of the box before Ryan McGrath beat Ouellette to the left side.
Forty seconds later, the Bears answered again on Rutt’s slap shot from the point.
“We’re starting to play the way we know we can,” said Rutt, a sophomore from Scarborough. “A lot of teams don’t think too much of us, but we’re fine with the underdog role.”
After a somewhat uneventful third period, the 5-minute overtime was just the opposite.
UMass-Lowell had several good scoring chances in OT, but Ouellette made seven of his 35 saves.
With the clock winding down, Diamond stole a pass to the middle of the ice just inside the blue line and moved in for the winning goal.
“I knew we weren’t going to go winless at Alfond this year, but the way we did it, in overtime, battling back, scoring four goals, which we haven’t done a lot, it made it a memorable night,” said Diamond.
“We sang the Stein Song and enjoyed it,” said Whitehead. “I’m just happy for the guys after fighting through all the adversity.”