AMHERST, Mass. — The University of Maine’s penalty-killing unit has been nationally ranked all season long.
But it let them down big time Friday night.
Chase Langeraap’s power-play goal with 3:26 remaining, Massachusetts’ third of the game, tied it up and Brian Keane scored just 11 seconds into overtime to give the Minutemen a 4-3 men’s hockey victory over the Black Bears at the Mullins Center.
UMass improved to 13-15-3 overall and 8-11-3 in Hockey East. Maine fell to 12-15-4 and 7-12-3, respectively. The two teams will play again tonight at 7.
It was UMass’ sixth consecutive win over Maine at the Mullins Center.
UMass went 3-for-6 on the power play, and Maine has now allowed six power-play goals in its last three games.
Keane’s goal represented the only time UMass led in the game.
Maine had taken a 3-2 lead 43 seconds into the third period when Will O’Neill beat UMass goalie Paul Dainton with a screened wrister from the point while Maine enjoyed a four-on-three power-play advantage.
But Matt Duffy was assessed a hooking call when he tried to slow down the speedy James Marcou on a breakaway, and Langeraap then tied it.
Maine had turned the puck over in the offensive zone and Cory Quirk quickly fed Marcou.
Moments later, Marcou slipped the puck down the right wing boards. The swift-skating Wellman tracked it down and, all in one motion, fired it across to an unattended Langeraap. He snapped it past Maine junior goalie Dave Wilson, who is still looking for his first career road win.
“I was over there, but he put it between my blocker and my pad. I should have gone down into the butterfly,” said Wilson.
Wellman said two Maine players went to Marcou and he knew Langeraap was driving to the net.
UMass coach Don Cahoon said Wellman made an exceptional play “because he had to go deep into the zone to make it.”
Off the faceoff in overtime, the Minutemen broke into the offensive zone and Brett Watson got the puck to Jordan Virtue, who tried to put a shot on net.
“There was somebody on him so he just tried to get as much on it as he could, and I saw it and re-directed it,” said Keane.
“He tapped it past my right pad,” said Wilson.
The goal came at the expense of the line of Chris Hahn, Robby Dee and Spencer Abbott, which has had its problems defensively to the tune of a minus-37 rating between them entering the game.
Players are given a plus-one if they are on the ice for an even-strength or shorthanded goal and a minus-one if the opponent scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal.
“They were our best line last weekend against BU,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead in explaining his decision to have them start the overtime.
Brian Flynn’s goal just 1:17 into the game staked the Black Bears to a 1-0 lead, but UMass’ Wellman equalized on the power play 10:12 into the middle period.
Maine’s Dee regained the lead 53 seconds later, but the Minutemen again answered on the power play with Matt Irwin tying matters up at the 15:49 mark.
Flynn opened the scoring when he was left uncovered in front of the UMass net and swept home the rebound of a Tanner House one-timer from the middle of the slot. Gustav Nyquist’s pass set up House’s shot.
Both teams had good chances in the first period, but Wilson and Dainton were sharp and there was no further scoring.
Wellman tied it 1-1 when Marcou’s centering pass from behind the net deflected over to him at Wilson’s left and he flipped it into the half-empty net.
Dee responded in quick fashion.
Chris Hahn dove to poke the puck back to Jeff Dimmen at the right point, and Dimmen one-timed a wrister that bounced off Dainton to Dee, who tucked it around the goalie.
But Irwin tied it when Marcou fed him a diagonal pass and he wristed a screened shot from the left point that sailed over Wilson’s glove.
Wellman explained that the Minutemen moved the puck pretty well on the power play and they have simplified it, focusing on getting the puck to the net instead of making fancy plays.
“We didn’t block any shots from the point,” said Whitehead.
Whitehead felt his team was doing a thorough job managing the lead in the third period until the final power play.
Wilson was forced to make just two Grade-A (high-percentage) saves in the third period after making 13 in the first two periods.
“They did a great job getting the puck to the net on the power play,” said Maine junior center Brett Carriere. “And they’re great on transition.”
UMass outshot Maine 42-24.
Wilson finished with 15 Grade-A saves while Dainton had seven.
“Wilson played very well,” said Cahoon.