Monday, December 9, 2013
ORONO — The first goal of his collegiate career will always be memorable for Jake Rutt. Unfortunately for the sophomore from Scarborough, the memory will be tinged with melancholy.
WHO: Maine vs. Vermont
WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 30 and 7 p.m. Dec. 1
WHERE: Alfond Arena, Orono
Rutt's first-period tally gave the University of Maine a two-goal advantage, but the Black Bears couldn't hold it and wound up salvaging a 2-2 Hockey East tie with the University of Massachusetts Friday night before a crowd of 4,231 at Alfond Arena.
"We had a 2-0 lead," Rutt said. "At Alfond, that should be a win."
UMass (3-4-1, 2-4-1 Hockey East) scored with 68 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then had Maine (2-9-1, 1-5-1) on its heels killing off a penalty for the final 1:08 of the scoreless five-minute overtime period.
Maine goalie Martin Ouellette finished with 30 saves to both preserve the tie and prevent an early deficit when the Black Bears, who didn't put a shot on net in the game's first seven minutes, struggled to find their rhythm.
"We didn't come out great," said senior captain Joey Diamond, "but we got better as the game went on."
"I thought (Ouellette) was a big difference-maker early," said UMass Coach John Micheletto, "because we had a lot of opportunities."
The spark came from a double penalty, to 6-foot-7 UMass defenseman Oleg Yevenko (holding) and the foot-shorter Diamond (embellishment).
Moments after they left the ice, freshman Devin Shore won a faceoff and senior Mark Nemec blasted a slap shot from the high slot to give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead.
It was their first lead at Alfond since the second period of the opening game more than a month ago, a 2-1 loss to Quinnipiac on Oct. 6.
Within two minutes, they had doubled it. A high-sticking penalty gave Maine a four-on-three advantage, and Rutt circled around to the middle of the ice before he snapped a shot that beat UMass goalie Kevin Boyle – who was coming off a shutout of Providence – low on the blocker side to make it 2-0.
"The last three or four years those (power-play goals) have come pretty easy for us," said Coach Tim Whitehead, whose team is 3-for-56 with a man advantage. "When we get one this year, it's kind of an event."
Only once in their previous 11 games – during the second period of last Saturday's 4-3 victory at UMass-Lowell – had the Black Bears enjoyed a two-goal cushion.
Ben Hutton and Kyle Beattie assisted on the goal for Rutt, who had a hand in creating the power play when he fell to the ice after a shove from UMass center Steven Guzzo.
The second period saw Diamond move past Prestin Ryan on the career penalty minutes list. A goalie interference call on Diamond led to a UMass power-play goal by Guzzo with five minutes left in the period and 15 seconds left in the penalty.
A three-on-two Minutemen break got started after Beattie tried to do a little too much with the puck in the offensive end instead of chipping it in and regrouping, and Guzzo made Maine pay, tipping a shot by Patrick Kiley past Ouellette. It remained 2-1 heading into the third.
The Black Bears had two power-play chances in the third but failed to convert. Micheletto called time with 1:39 remaining. After a flurry in front of Boyle, the UMass goalie skated off as the Minutemen rushed up the ice. Conor Sheary dumped the puck behind the net, and teammate Rocco Carzo beat the Maine defense to it.
"I went back and got it and just threw it in the slot," Carzo said. "I knew someone would be there. We had six guys out there (with Boyle having skated to the bench). Someone's always going to be in the slot."
That someone turned out to be Conor Allen. His slap shot beat Ouellette, and, after overtime, made for a quiet Maine locker room.
"It felt like a loss," Rutt said. "Who knows? That one point could be the difference between home seed or not or maybe even making the playoffs."
The Black Bears will take three days off starting with Thanksgiving, then return to practice next Sunday night. Their next game is against Vermont on Nov. 30, the first of a two-game Hockey East series.
"We just have to keep plugging along," Rutt said. "We're practicing very well. We're in good shape. There's really no panic at all."
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: