ORONO – After rallying from a three-goal deficit in the third period, the University of Maine lost a heartbreaker Saturday night when a funky bounce led to a two-man breakaway for visiting Boston University.
Matt Nieto capped a thrilling Hockey East game at Alfond Arena, scoring with 3.8 seconds left in overtime to give BU a 5-4 victory before an emotionally exhausted crowd of 4,594.
“That’s life,” said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead. “It’s not a movie script.”
Just when it seemed the Black Bears were heading toward a final push at an improbable victory, an attempt at dumping the puck into the BU zone backfired when it caromed oddly off a stanchion holding the plexiglass panels above the boards.
BU’s Danny O’Regan reacted first, poking the puck ahead to Evan Rodrigues, who raced up the ice with Nieto, faked a shot at Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, then passed across the crease.
“I looked up at the clock and there were 8 seconds left,” Nieto said. “I was kind of scared we were going to run out of time. But Evan made a great fake, the goalie went down, (Rodrigues) slid it over and I just had to tap it in.”
The loss leaves Maine at 8-16-6 overall, 4-11-6 in Hockey East. Boston University is 14-12-2, 11-7-2.
“It was an unbelievable game to watch,” said BU Coach Jack Parker, whose team is 8-1-3 in its last 12 games at Alfond. “We got the fourth goal and thought that should be it.”
Instead, the Black Bears rallied from a 4-1 hole early in the third to force overtime. The tying goal came with 40 seconds left and Ouellette on the bench for an extra attacker.
Steven Swavely won a faceoff in the offensive end, then headed for the slot as the puck cycled around to Jake Rutt at the left point. Rutt fired and Swavely tipped the puck into the net.
“We’re proud of the boys,” Whitehead said. “I imagine there weren’t too many people who thought we were going to come back, but certainly our team believed we had that opportunity.”
The Black Bears came out flying and took a 1-0 lead when Ryan Lomberg flipped in the rebound of a Joey Diamond shot on Maine’s first power-play opportunity, with just under three minutes remaining in the first. Rutt also assisted.
The Terriers, after being outshot 18-8 in the first, responded with a three-goal second period.
Danny O’Regan tied it on a rebound after a scrum in front of Ouellette. BU added two more in the final five minutes of the period, with Cason Hohmann scoring on a breakaway and Matt Grzelcyk connecting with a shot from the top of the left circle.
A late retaliation penalty on Diamond at the end of the second period gave BU a power play to start the third. The Terriers needed just over a minute to cash in, with O’Regan taking a pretty feed from Nieto and knocking it into an open net for a 4-1 lead.
Diamond made amends three minutes later by finishing off a bang-bang power-play goal that originated with a Devin Shore slap shot from the right point. The puck was redirected by Ben Hutton to Diamond’s waiting stick near the right post.
The Black Bears weren’t finished. After having the apparent winning goal disallowed Friday night after a video review, Shore waited out another lengthy review Saturday, only this time it confirmed his doorstep goal with 11:25 left in the regulation that made it 4-3.
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: