BOSTON — The Maine men’s hockey team moved into sole possession of third place in Hockey East on Friday, playing to a 4-4 tie with Northeastern at Matthews Arena.
The Black Bears stayed one point ahead of the Huskies, even though they couldn’t make a late one-goal lead hold up.
No. 17 Maine (15-10-4, 9-5-3 Hockey East) took the lead at 17:05 of the first period when Steven Swavely found Connor Leen alone in front. Leen had time to think about how he wanted to attack Northeastern goaltender Clay Witt. He turned his back to Witt, shielding the puck, and whistled a backhander past him for a 1-0 lead.
The second period brought an offensive onslaught. Swavely gave Maine a 2-0 lead 24 seconds in when Conor Riley’s shot dribbled off his stick and rolled slowly toward the left side of the crease. Swavely was in perfect position to one-time it past a startled Witt.
No. 9 Northeastern (17-10-4, 9-6-2) pounced for the next three goals. Defenseman Colton Saucerman fired a blistering slap shot from straightaway that breezed over the right shoulder of Martin Ouellette for a power-play goal. Saucerman set up the next goal with a rising shot from the left point that Kevin Roy tipped past Ouellette.
John Stevens put the Huskies in front at 14:14, emerging from a scrum in front to stuff the puck past a suddenly shaky Ouellette.
The Black Bears answered at 15:52 when Blaine Byron, celebrating his 19th birthday, converted a two-on-one break by tipping a backhander past Witt.
Mark Anthoine put Maine back on top at 13:52 of the third, shortly after the Black Bears killed off a Devin Shore penalty. Shore emerged from the box and his shot was stopped by Witt, but Anthoine was trailing the play and put home the rebound.
But Northeastern forced overtime when Braden Pimm took a Mike Szmatula drop pass in the left circle and one-timed a shot past Ouellette at 18:49.
The teams meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Matthews Arena.
Mark Emmert can be reached at 791-6424 or at: