BOSTON — The more heart Maine showed Saturday, the more there was to break when its hockey season came to a sudden end.

The Black Bears did something they hadn’t done all year – erase a three-goal deficit – only to meet the same fate as last year’s squad. Northeastern’s Kevin Roy gladly accepted a misguided pass from Maine defenseman Mark Hamilton and fired a shot from the slot past goaltender Rob McGovern 13:45 into overtime for a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 1,330 at Matthews Arena.

That gave the Huskies (18-13-5) a sweep of the Hockey East playoff series, both wins coming in overtime. Maine also had its season end in overtime last year in a first-round playoff series at Vermont.

“It’s never easy ending the season like that. It’s a one-goal difference,” Maine forward Blaine Byron said. “If we get a bounce to go our way, it might be a different story.”

Instead, Maine’s season ends with an 8-24-6 record, its worst since the 1993-94 team finished 6-29-1 after forfeiting 11 wins and three ties because of NCAA rules violations.

But the Black Bears’ final weekend may have been their best, despite the outcome. Northeastern seemed to put the game on ice by scoring three goals in a span of 2:06 late in the first period.


For a Maine team that ranked last in Hockey East in scoring, it was a gaping hole to contemplate, especially on the road as an No. 11 seed battling the hottest team in the league. Northeastern’s victory was its ninth in a row.

The Black Bears responded with their strongest period of the series, steamrolling the Huskies with a 16-5 shot advantage. Cam Brown banged in the rebound of a Will Merchant shot for a power-play goal that cut the deficit to 3-1 at 11:44.

Maine kept the pressure on, scoring again on a beautiful pass from behind the net by Andrew Tegeler to Cedric Lacroix, who found the back of the net with a one-timer from the right circle 4:40 into the third period.

When freshman defenseman Keith Muehlbauer completed the unlikely comeback with his first career goal, wheeling from above the right circle and sending a fluttering puck past Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck at 8:29 of the third, it seemed as if the visitors were destined to force a deciding Game 3.

“It was kind of a broken play,” Muehlbauer said. “It was actually a knuckle puck, so I just hit it and tried to get it to the net. It was amazing when it went in.”

Maine had a few terrific opportunities to net the winner in regulation, including a pair of short-handed attempts. But overtime beckoned for a third consecutive playoff game for the Black Bears, all of which have ended in anguish.


“We had a couple chances we couldn’t finish in regulation. We just couldn’t find the net,” Muehlbauer said. “Give us another period and we would take that game. It was just how the puck rolls sometimes, I guess.”

In the extra session, Northeastern kept the puck mostly in Maine’s end, forging an 8-2 advantage in shots. The eighth one was Roy’s second goal of the night, and the 63rd of the senior’s career.

“They’re competing to win and they’ve got good players, and there were times when they got it rolling a little bit. For a lot of the game, we tended to have the edge in play,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said. “We played with three lines most of the third period and in overtime, but yet we still had enough energy to create chances and really make it difficult on the opponent, too.”

The good news for Black Bear fans was that a young team that hadn’t defeated an opponent with a winning record didn’t collapse when it easily could have.

“I think that showed the character on our team and everyone wanted to battle back. I certainly think on the other side they weren’t expecting us to come back,” Byron said, before delivering one more piece of positive news. A Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick, Byron said he’ll come back for his senior season after leading the team with 24 points this winter.

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