WORCESTER, Mass. – The University of Maine-Minnesota-Duluth game had its share of strange goals.

The first one came in the second period and prompted a release from the NCAA to explain the referee’s decision to count the goal.

Here’s what happened:

Duluth’s Caleb Herbert dislodged the Maine goal as he skated in back of goalie Dan Sullivan.

No whistle was blown, however, as the Black Bears carried the puck up ice. Mike Cornell passed to Matt Mangene on the right wing. He cut in and beat Duluth goalie Kenny Reiter with a backhander and Maine led 2-0 with 12:50 left in the game.

The goal was allowed because of rule 6-10-c, which states: “If the nonoffending team has an offensive opportunity and its defensive goal cage has been displaced, play shall be allowed to continue until the scoring chance is complete.”

Duluth’s players thought the play was over and slowed down. Maine did not.

“I told the kids on the bench, that’s a good reason to never quit on anything,” said Bulldogs Coach Scott Sandelin. “Everyone (on Duluth) kind of quit on that play. Give Maine credit, they kept playing.”

BRIAN DUMOULIN, a Biddeford native playing for Boston College (a 2-0 winner over Air Force), wasn’t surprised his game was so close.

Dumoulin, who plays defense for BC, said this is the type of game players expect in the NCAAs.

“It’s tough to take a team’s stick away,” he said. “At this point of the season, they’re going to want to advance as much as we do, so they’re going to do everything they can, give everything they have.

“You know you’re going to get the best of every team. And if you don’t show up and you lose we’re fortunate to be moving on to (Sunday).”

Dumoulin, a junior, won a national championship with BC as a freshman. Last year the Eagles lost their NCAA opener.

“It’s just about winning another game,” he said. “We just want to win the next hockey game and focus on what we do well, and wins will take care of themselves.

“We’re not ready to have them take our sticks away.”

TIM WHITEHEAD, Maine’s head coach, said forward Spencer Abbott would not have been able to play if Maine had been given a Friday first-round game.

Abbott, who suffered a concussion in the Hockey East semifinals, was cleared Saturday to play against Minnesota-Duluth. He practiced Friday but hadn’t been cleared then.

Whitehead said the Black Bears followed the concussion protocol.

“It’s a six-, seven-day process,” said Whitehead before the game. “It took time. We were fortunate we were given a Saturday regional. In the end that might have been the difference.”

THIS NORTHEAST Regional features four of the 10 Hobey Baker finalists: Maine’s Abbott, Minnesota-Duluth’s Jack Connolly, Boston College’s Dumoulin and Air Force’s Tim Kirby. The award is given to college hockey’s outstanding player.

MAINE AND Minnesota-Duluth had met eight times with the Bulldogs holding a 5-3 advantage. This was the first time they played since Dec. 27, 2005, a 4-1 win for Minnesota-Duluth.

ABOUT 90 minutes before the game, many Minnesota-Duluth’s players gathered outside the media entrance to kick a soccer ball in a pregame ritual.

ERIC WEINRICH was a face in the crowd but his visit was for work, not pleasure. He was scouting both games for the Buffalo Sabres. Still, he has three seasons playing defense for the University of Maine some 25 years ago. You can’t banish all emotions.

Staff Writers Mike Lowe and Steve Solloway contributed to this report.