ORONO, Maine — The University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks hadn’t beaten the University of Maine Black Bears at the Alfond Arena since Feb. 17, 2001. UML had gone 0-14-1 during that 2,905-day span.
But the River Hawks put an end to that famine Friday night as they used a third-period power-play goal by Kory Falite to snap a 2-2 tie and they went on to register a 3-2 men’s hockey victory over the Black Bears to extend Maine’s winless streak to nine games (0-7-2).
UMass Lowell improved to 12-12-0 overall, 9-8-0 in Hockey East while Maine fell to 10-12-3 and 5-9-2, respectively.
The score was deceiving because UMass Lowell completely dominated the game with its decisive speed advantage and tenacity. The more experienced River Hawks won most of the 50-50 puck battles.
The River Hawks outshot the Black Bears 38-16 and it was only the brilliant goaltending of junior Dave Wilson that kept the Bears within striking distances. Twenty-one of Wilson’s 35 saves were of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety.
UML goalie Carter Hutton finished with 14 saves but he was forced to make just five Grade-A stops.
“They outplayed us,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “They were quicker and faster. They were the better team. They stuck to their system and played very effectively as a team. Wilson played a great game.”
Falite’s goal came just 1:02 after Maine’s Spencer Abbott had equalized with Maine’s second power-play goal.
Maine’s Lem Randall was assessed a contact-to-the-head roughing penalty 27 seconds after the Abbott goal and the River Hawks made them pay.
Falite, positioned at the top of the right circle, one-timed a cross-ice pass from Barry Goers past Wilson.
“I just shot it. Ben Holmstrom deserves credit for it because he set a great screen,” said said Falite.
“I didn’t see it until the last second,” said Wilson. “It hit my pad and glove and went in.”
After pinning the Bears in their own end for most of the scoreless first period and outshooting Maine 15-2, the River Hawks finally solved Wilson in the second period when Matt Ferreira jammed home his own rebound from the edge of the crease.
Maine tied it on the power play when Robby Dee deflected Simon Danis-Pepin’s power play point shot behind UML’s Carter Hutton.
Senior left wing Mark Roebothan broke the tie for UML with a shorthanded goal. He took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle and followed his shot unmolested to tap in the rebound.
“It hit me in the mask and stunned me,” said Wilson.
Abbott tied it when he skated on to a diagonal pass from Danis-Pepin and one-timed it past Hutton.
“I had a similar chance in the first period but I fanned on it. Simon gave me a softer pass and the shot went five-hole,” said Abbott.
But the tie was short-lived and Maine hurt a potential comeback by giving UML two more power plays after Falite had scored.
“Those penalties in the third period killed us,” said Abbott. “They played their system and we didn’t play ours. We didn’t get enough shots and didn’t take their goalie’s eyes away.”
“We played a really thorough game,” said UML coach Blaise MacDonald. “I liked the way we played in all three zones. Our physicality and poise was good. We hit four posts and I was really impressed with their goalie. He made a lot of hard saves when we were battling at the crease.”
“This definitely feels good. This was a long time coming,” said Roebothan, who was playing in just his fifth game after returning from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for six weeks.
Maine hosts the UMass Minutemen on Sunday at 4 p.m.