ORONO – They may not have saved their best for last, but the Black Bears certainly left their home fans with plenty of excitement in the season’s final Hockey East game at Alfond Arena.

Maine skated to a 4-4 overtime tie with Northeastern before 4,107 fans Saturday night in a game that was scoreless for the final 39 minutes, including the five-minute extra period.

The tie moves the Black Bears into sole possession of eighth place in Hockey East with a 10-17-7 overall mark, 6-12-7 in conference play. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

A 4-0 loss to first-place New Hampshire left UMass at 18 points to Maine’s 19.

With 14 points, Northeastern (9-19-4, 5-16-4) is eliminated from postseason possibilities.

Both teams had chances in overtime, and Maine goalie Martin Ouellette needed his 35th save in the final seconds as a 20-second Maine power play nearly turned into a short-handed goal for Northeastern.

Huskies forward Adam Reid brought his stick down hard on the crossbar next to Ouellette after the final horn sounded. Reid had made a similar gesture of frustration on the ice near his bench after twice being denied inside five feet by Ouellette late in the second period.

Maine took leads of 2-1 and 4-3 Saturday night, but the latter lead lasted only 32 seconds before Northeastern’s Steve Morra converted a rebound in the sixth minute of the second period.

That marked eight goals in 26 minutes, but it also ended what was turning into a shootout. Defense ruled the final 34 minutes of regulation as Ouellette and Northeastern senior Bryan Mountain (34 saves in relief of starter Chris Rawlings) slammed the door.

Maine outshot Northeastern 51-39 overall and 4-2 in overtime, but in addition to Ouellette’s play in the frantic final seconds, the Black Bears also needed a belly-diving defensive play by Ben Hutton to thwart a Vinny Saponari breakaway with 1:30 left.

The Black Bears wound up with a 2-9-6 record at Alfond Arena this season. Any playoff games would be on the road.

Northeastern was playing without leading scorer Kevin Roy, the Beanpot MVP, and freshman front-line forward Mike McMurtry — both sidelined with injuries.

The first period featured four goals, all on power plays.

Northeastern struck first, on a shot by Cody Ferriero inside the left circle. Maine responded with goals by freshman Ryan Lomberg, who took a feed from Diamond near the blue line and skated to the bottom of the right circle before sneaking a shot inside the near post, and senior Adam Shemansky, who tucked a pass from Stu Higgins inside the left post.

It remained 2-1 until the final minute of the period, after Jake Rutt and Joey Diamond were sent to the box in quick succession. Northeastern’s five-on-three advantage paid off with 12 seconds remaining when Colton Saucerman, following a cross-ice pass from Ferriero, scored from the right slot.

The second period saw four more goals, the first by Josh Manson just 17 seconds after the break with Northeastern still on a power play.

Maine’s Steven Swavely tied it at 3 with yet another power play goal four minutes later, assisted by Lomberg and Diamond.

The Black Bears pulled ahead again at 4-3 when Mike Cornell’s shot from the blue line glanced off Rawlings and into the net. That spelled the end of the night for Rawlings, who let in four of 17 shots.

The lead lasted for less than a minute when Morra shoveled a rebound past Ouellette.

The Black Bears wrap up the regular season next weekend with a Friday night and Saturday afternoon series at UNH. Maine trails seventh-place Vermont by two points and holds a one-point edge for the final berth over UMass, which faces Merrimack next weekend. 

NOTES: After goodbye speeches, the seven Maine seniors — senior captain Diamond, Cornell, Shemansky, Kyle Beattie, Mark Nemec, Klas Leidermark and Nick Pryor (in a suit and tie, walking) — skated once more around center ice and bid the remaining crowd adieu.

“It’s been the best four years of my life,” said Diamond, “and I’m going to miss you guys.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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