ESTERO, Fla. – The University of Maine men’s hockey team arrived at the Florida College Classic ready to test itself against some top-notch competition from around the country.

After struggling through 51/2 periods, the Black Bears were teetering on the verge of receiving a failing grade. But as they have many times this season, the Black Bears found a way to make a third-period comeback and pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory Thursday over tournament co-host Cornell.

The dramatic victory over the Big Red, who started the season ranked in the top 20, could be the spark the ninth-ranked Black Bears need to get back on track after going just 2-4-1 in the seven games prior to Thursday’s game.

“This is going to jump-start our second half,” said Maine forward Matt Mangene, who scored the winning goal 2:39 into overtime. “The thing about hockey is that momentum is huge, so going into the rest of the year, coming down here and getting a win is big.”

Spencer Abbott set up Mangene’s winner while streaking down the right boards with the puck.

“(Abbott) was taking it down the wall and started cutting behind the net,” Mangene said. “I started screaming for a pass and he put it right there. I pretty much just slapped at it and it went in.”

The Black Bears forced overtime with a power-play goal at 8:27 of the third period. Robby Dee got open in front of the Cornell net and blasted a pass from Tanner House past goalie Mike Garman.

Will O’Neill also got an assist on the tying goal.

Maine jumped ahead early in the game, getting a goal by freshman Mark Anthoine of Lewiston 1:55 into the first period. Theo Andersson and Will O’Neill had assists on the goal, the first of Anthoine’s career.

Maine Coach Tim Whitehead was pleased with his team’s effort, although he admitted conditioning is still a concern.

“We talked about it as a team this morning: Conditioning was a factor in (Wednesday’s) game (a 4-1 loss to Miami of Ohio), but it wasn’t the only factor,” Whitehead said.

“After watching the tape, it was clear we needed more courage and more effort and that’s what we got (Thursday).”

Whitehead said it would have been easy for his team to fold, especially because of the storm-related travel issues the Black Bears encountered just getting to Florida and then the poor performance against Miami on Wednesday night.

“It was too easy to make excuses for (Wednesday) night,” Whitehead said. “Miami was better than us in every area and we were embarrassed, so we needed this one.

“It could have gone either way but we got stronger each period (Thursday) as the game went along because we were working harder.”