SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The University of Maine and its goaltender, Martin Ouellette, were headed for a second consecutive road victory Saturday night.
But Bryan Rust of Notre Dame crashed the party.
Rust scored twice in 24 seconds late in the game, turning victory into a heartbreaking 3-2 loss for the Black Bears.
After Ouellette made 39 stops, tying a career high, Rust struck twice.
With 1:08 left, he snapped a 25-footer past Ouellette to make it 2-2.
Before the crowd at Compton Family Ice Center had settled down into their seats from that one, Rust had the puck on his stick again and put it past Ouellette for the winning goal with 44 seconds left.
The loss kept Maine (13-10-3, 7-5-2 Hockey East) in fourth place in the Hockey East standings with six games left.
The Black Bears return home to face Merrimack for a pair of games next weekend.
Notre Dame (16-12-1, 5-9-1) broke a three-game losing streak.
The Black Bears had smothered Notre Dame defensively Saturday until Rust’s late-game moves.
Before Rust scored, the Irish’s only goals against Ouellette in two games had come on a power play Saturday night and a goal late in Maine’s 2-1 victory Friday night after Notre Dame pulled its goaltender for an extra attacker.
Ouellette had 75 saves in the two games and Maine successfully killed off 8 of 9 Notre Dame power-play opportunities over the two nights.
A power-play goal by Ben Hutton put the Black Bears in front 2-1 in the second period.
A major penalty on Jeff Costello of Notre Dame led to Hutton’s goal. Costello was whistled for a five-minute penalty after clubbing Connor Leen of Maine in the face with a cross-check. Leen went down to the ice for nearly a minute but was OK.
With the Irish down two men, Hutton took a pass from Devin Shore and rifled a shot past Notre Dame goalie Steven Summerhays for a 2-1 Maine lead with 8:19 left in the second period. Notre Dame was able to kill off the remaining 4:35 of Costello’s penalty.
Hutton almost struck again with one second left in the period. His shot from the point went wide of the net by approximately a foot.
Cam Brown gave Maine a 1-0 lead 8:24 into the game when he circled behind the Notre Dame net, and from that position knocked the puck into the net off Summerhays. Before Summerhays realized what happened, the puck was in the net and Brown raised his stick up to celebrate the goal.
The Irish tied the score on a power-play goal with 6:16 left in the opening period.
The Black Bears were down two men on penalties within 30 seconds. Maine survived Notre Dame’s two-man advantage, but Irish center T.J. Tynan put a 15-footer past Ouellette while Notre Dame was still up one man.
NOTES: The Black Bears return home to face Merrimack on Friday and Saturday in Orono. They have just six games remaining before the start of the Hockey East tournament in March. … The Black Bears have met up with Notre Dame Coach Jeff Jackson before in a championship environment. When Jackson was the head coach at Lake Superior State, Maine defeated his team 5-4 for the NCAA championship in 1993.