LOWELL, Mass. — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey season ended in overtime Friday night, as UMass-Lowell scored in the second extra minute but couldn’t officially celebrate until after a lengthy video review.
Derek Arnold scored the game winner on a rebound to give top-seeded Lowell a 2-1 victory, a sweep of the best-of-three quarterfinal series and a berth in the Hockey East semifinals next Friday night at TD Garden in Boston.
No. 8 Maine, which didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final weekend of the regular season, finished at 11-19-8.
A crowd of 5,399 at the Tsongas Center Friday cheered the River Hawks (24-10-2) to victory against a resilient Maine team playing the third period and overtime without senior captain Joey Diamond.
One night after taking six minors in a 4-2 opening-game loss and talking at length about how they had to stay out of the penalty box in order to have a chance against Lowell, the Black Bears spent even more time in the box.
They lost Diamond for the series after the second of his two five-minute majors (sandwiched around a 2-minute minor for roughing).
Maine’s all-time career leader in penalty minutes, Diamond’s reputation for thin skin and quick temper had the River Hawks testing him at every opportunity. After sitting in the box for five minutes during the first period for crashing into Lowell goalie Connor Hellebuyck on a near breakaway, Diamond was given a game disqualification late in the second period.
With Maine nursing a 1-0 lead on a Devin Shore power-play goal earlier in the second, Diamond and Lowell junior Joe Houk became entangled in the corner left of the Lowell net. Both went down, and Diamond got to his feet first. He tried to follow play up the ice, but his skate was either entangled with Houk or being purposely held.
At first, Diamond threw his arms wide as if pleading for official intervention, then decided to take care of the situation himself. He kicked hard to free his skate, and connected solidly with the prone Houk’s upper leg. Houk recoiled in obvious pain, and the men in stripes converged on Diamond as the Lowell crowd roared. Near the penalty box, and barking at the officials, Diamond was given the DQ, whereupon he slammed the boards with his stick before being escorted off the ice, possibly for the last time in a Black Bears uniform.
Game disqualification means he is done for the series.
Somehow, the Black Bears once more killed off the five-minute Lowell power play, which overlapped the second and third periods. Lowell finally managed the tying goal four minutes into the third, when Michael Fallon jammed the puck over the line after a wraparound move with plenty of congestion in the crease.
Maine goalie Martin Ouellette immediately argued the call, but a video review failed to overturn the goal. Scott Wilson was credited with an assist.
The final 16 minutes of regulation included one Maine penalty and two on Lowell, but neither team’s power play connected. Jon Swavely had Maine’s best opportunity, sending a shot from the right circle to the high near post, but Hellebuyck deflected it away.
Ouellette made one final save as regulation ticked away with Wilson standing at the right post, swatting in vain. Lowell held a 34-18 advantage in shots in regulation, but Ouellette was superb.
In the first Diamond major, Ouellette made a nifty glove save to deny Wilson on a 1-on-1 breakaway.
The Black Bears took a 1-0 lead on the face-off following a Lowell penalty for holding. Ryan Lomberg won the draw back to Shore at the right point. Shore skated to the high slot and found the net through a thicket of blue jerseys.