ORONO — When Joey Diamond scored a YouTube-worthy goal in the first period, it looked like the University of Maine might finally take control of its Hockey East game Friday night.

But the Black Bears could do little more in a 5-3 loss to UMass-Lowell before 4,749 at Alfond Arena.

Lowell scored two goals early in the third period to open a 5-2 lead and put away the victory.

Maine (3-5-1, 3-4 in Hockey East) dropped its third straight. Losing on the road to Boston College and New Hampshire is one thing, but a home loss against Lowell (4-3, 2-2) was hard for the Maine players to accept.

“This loss is embarrassing for us,” said Diamond, who scored two goals. “You can’t show up to the Alfond and play like that in front of these fans.

“We have to realize that this is Maine hockey and that’s unacceptable.”

Maine outshot Lowell 33-22 but spent too much time trying to kill penalties (eight, including a five-minute major).

“We spotted them three goals early and we had too many penalties to kill off, which tired our team out,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said.

“We didn’t have the gas to tie it up.”

Starting goalie Martin Ouellette gave up three goals on seven shots and was replaced by Dan Sullivan after 11:17 of the first period, with Lowell up 3-1.

Ouellette began his night with a stellar pad save, but the River Hawks kept possession and Josh Holmstrom lifted a backhander over Ouellette at 2:26.

Maine freshman Stu Higgins scored his first goal to tie it at 5:57.

Ouellette made his biggest mistake at 8:07. With Maine on the power play, he came out for a loose puck but then sent it right to Matt Ferreira of Lowell. Ferreira scored on the open net for a 2-1 lead.

On Lowell’s first power play, Riley Wetmore one-timed a shot from outside the crease at 11:17 for a 3-1 lead, ending Ouellette’s night.

Diamond then scored the goal of the night — if not the year. Taking a perfect outlet pass from Brian Flynn at center ice, Diamond skated in against a defender but was spun around.

With his back to the goal, Diamond stuffed the puck between his legs and past goalie Doug Carr at 16:13, closing the Black Bears to within 3-2.

“I had nothing else to do and I was fortunate to get it in the net,” Diamond said.

In the second period, Higgins was ejected for hitting from behind, giving Lowell a five-minute power play. Maine killed it, to the Alfond crowd’s delight

“I thought for sure we would surge back,” Whitehead said.

In the third period, Scott Wilson of Lowell skated through the Maine defense and scored at 6:48. A Maine turnover in its end led to Ferreira’s second goal, at 9:41, for a 5-2 lead.

Diamond scored a power-play goal at 17:03. Maine pulled Sullivan with two minutes left but Lowell held on.

The teams will face off again at 7 tonight.

NOTES: Joe Carr announced his last Maine game Friday night. Carr, the Black Bears’ radio voice from 1987-95, has announced the televised games since. Carr, also the director of university relations at Maine, is leaving to become the vice president for communications at his alma mater, Providence College.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: [email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH