ORONO – The University of Maine men’s hockey team took control of the second period. The Black Bears maintained control in the third period.

When they needed it most, the Black Bears buckled down and closed out a 4-2 victory over Vermont in a Hockey East game Saturday night at Alfond Arena.

A night after the Black Bears suffered one of their worst drubbings of the season and nearly four weeks after they earned their last win, Joey Diamond’s goal with 7:22 left in the third period broke a 2-2 tie and helped end Maine’s six-game winless streak.

It was a pivotal step, considering the Black Bears have struggled — and failed — to close out games in the last four weeks.

“That was big for us,” Diamond said. “After a couple tough losses, it’s hard to get one and we gutted this one out. We’re just happy to get this win here at the Alfond.

“This is what we needed. It’s crucial right now.”

Seconds after leaving the penalty box, Diamond streaked down the ice and dug the puck out along the boards behind the Vermont goal to avoid an icing call.

He then skated back to the glove side of Vermont goalie Rob Madore and sent a wrist shot above his right shoulder, giving Maine its first lead since early in the first period.

“The third period turned into a pretty tight-checking game, where you’re kind of getting the feeling that whoever scored first was going to win, with both teams playing pretty well defensively,” said Maine left wing Brian Flynn, whose goal at 13:52 of the second period tied the game.

“We got there and (Diamond) is so good down low and he turned around and took it to the net. I think it might have hit off a defenseman’s skate, but I think we kind of earned that bounce.”

Then with 21.9 seconds left, Gustav Nyquist scored his second goal of the game, tapping the puck into an empty net to seal the win, Maine’s first since beating then-No. 3 Boston College 4-1 at home on Jan. 16.

“We responded very well Saturday,” Flynn said. “We need to carry that through and play like that every game because our backs are against the wall.

“I feel like we’ve played pretty well in some games and lost, so to play a tight game like that and come out on a winning end was pretty good for us, and hopefully it will give us some confidence in those tight games.”

The Black Bears are in fifth place in Hockey East with 22 points, five behind fourth-place Boston University and a point ahead of Northeastern.

After Nyquist gave Maine (12-10-6, 9-8-4 Hockey East) a 1-0 lead just 6 seconds into the game, the Catamounts took a 2-1 lead on a pair of power-play goals: Sebastian Stalberg’s five-on-three goal at 1:39, and Jack Downing’s tip-in from the slot at 15:25.

Maine put pressure on Vermont goalie Rob Madore (35 saves) late in the first and controlled the tempo in the second, yet couldn’t create second-chance opportunities until midway through the period.

The Black Bears had a 20-4 advantage in shots against the Catamounts (7-16-5, 5-12-4) in the second period. With 6:08 left in the period, Flynn’s power-play goal off a rebound of a shot by Spencer Abbott from the left point tied the game at 2.

“They certainly played better than us but it really came down to that one play, where it was Diamond that won the race to the puck and our defenseman was shocked by it and (Diamond) made the play,” Vermont Coach Kevin Sneddon said.

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at:

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