BURLINGTON, Vt. — Twice goalie Martin Ouellette skated back on the ice, thinking he should return to his crease because the game no longer was winnable.

Twice, Coach Red Gendron called him back to the bench.

The lesson from Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the University of Vermont?

“We don’t quit,” Gendron said. “We have a proud tradition at the University of Maine of excellence in men’s ice hockey and we’re going to learn to get after it every single day and play to win every single day.”

A crowd of 3,358 at Gutterson Fieldhouse saw Vermont and Maine tied after two periods for the second night in a row. On Friday night, the Catamounts scored with a little under three minutes left to win 3-2.

On Saturday night, they built a 3-1 lead in the third and survived a Maine goal with Ouellette pulled that made it 3-2 before potting a pair of empty-netters in the final minute of play.

The Black Bears fell to 6-6-1 overall but remained at 3-2-1 in Hockey East. Only the first two games against Vermont counted in conference standings, and Maine split with the Catamounts (7-5-1, 4-4 Hockey East) earlier this month in Orono.

Away from Alfond Arena, the Black Bears are 0-5-1.

“Our defense had a brutal night,” Gendron said.

A short-handed goal by Steven Swavely late in the second period pulled Maine into a 1-1 tie after Anthony DeCenzo put Vermont on top.

The Catamounts struck again in the opening minute of the third after two quick passes left H.T. Lenz in position for his first goal of the season.

Maine’s frustration – the Black Bears hit the post three times in the first two periods – boiled over with eight minutes left when senior captain Brice O’Connor took a swipe at a Vermont player in front of Ouellette following one of his 25 saves.

Five seconds into the power play, the Catamounts made it 3-1 on an open net.

With Ouellette pulled in favor of a 6-on-5 skater advantage, the Black Bears made it 3-2 when Devin Shore tipped in a wrist shot from Ben Hutton with just over two minutes remaining.

A pair of empty-net goals by Vermont made it a 5-2 game with little time left on the clock, but still Ouellette remained on the bench in favor of an extra skater in the hope of cutting that margin.

“This is a work in progress,” Gendron said. “This is supposed to be hard. Then when you have victories, they feel that much better, because you know you’ve paid a price to earn them.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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