ORONO — It was supposed to feel like old times at Alfond Arena.

The University of Maine hockey team was celebrating its 40th anniversary Friday at Alfond Arena. The Black Bears wore their throwback uniforms with the Columbia blue trim, and they faced rival New Hampshire, with longtime coach Dick Umile behind the bench.

And, after Maine took a 2-0 lead, UNH rallied to send the game into overtime.

But the Black Bears could not create a Marcus Gustafsson moment and settled for a 2-2 tie before a crowd of 4,788.

For those unaware of Maine hockey history, it was Gustafsson who scored in overtime to beat UNH 3-2 in the 1999 NCAA championship game – the most significant game of this rivalry.

Friday was important for Maine, as the Black Bears are battling back to relevance. Maine has not finished higher than 10th in the Hockey East standings the past three years. With Friday’s tie, the Black Bears are 12-9-3 overall and 6-6-2 in Hockey East, in sixth place.

Maine has its eyes on fourth place, but UMass-Lowell and Boston University won Friday and are now four points ahead of the Black Bears, although both have played more games.

Maine had its chances against UNH (9-22-3, 4-7-2) but couldn’t hold a two-goal lead.

“It feels like a point lost, for sure,” Maine forward Mitchell Fossier said. “When we play our best, we should beat that team.”

Patrick Holway and Daniel Perez scored for Maine. Jeremy Swayman made 31 saves, including some key ones in overtime when UNH outshot the Black Bears 7-1.

Maine took a 1-0 lead 3:25 into the first period. Holway, a sophomore defenseman, got control of the puck in the high slot and wristed a shot over goalie Danny Tirone’s shoulder.

Tirone also made 31 saves.

“The first goal wasn’t a good one,” Umile said. “After that, he made some great saves. Both goalies played well.”

Swayman thwarted the Wildcats early. UNH had a 9-2 shots advantage at one point.

In the second period, Tirone stood tall until the Black Bears scored on a quick rush. Tirone stopped a shot by Cedric Lacroix, but Perez skated in for the rebound at 17:33.

UNH had one last chance in the period, with a faceoff in Maine’s end with 10 seconds left. The Wildcats won it, Max Gildon shot the puck into a scrum in front of the net, and Jason Salvaggio stuffed it in at 19:57.

“That was huge,” Umile said.

Just 1:08 into the third, UNH got a 2-on-1 opportunity after a turnover. Salvaggio made a perfect pass to Eric MacAdams at the far post, and Swayman didn’t have a chance.

After the goal, UNH got back-to-back power plays, but Maine killed them. The Black Bears, last in the league in penalty killing, was 5 for 5 Friday.

“I thought our penalty kill was great,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said. “I really didn’t like our power play (0 for 4). We didn’t do a good enough job getting pucks and bodies to the net.

“It was a heck of a battle. Each team had their spurts where they carried the play … I can’t sit here and say we played a terrible game. We didn’t … we just didn’t play good enough to win it.”

Umile, who is in his 28th and final season, is now 595-364-111 all-time. He is 43-46-8 against Maine, with so many close ones.

“Not many things change,” Umile said.

The teams play again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

NOTES: Part of the 40th anniversary celebration featured a handful of alumni appearing before the game, along with Maine’s first coach, Jack Semler. … Throughout the game, greetings from former players were played on the video board.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]ald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH