ORONO — Senior goalie Dave Wilson made 23 saves and Spencer Abbott’s goal just 23 seconds into the game proved to be the game-winner as the University of Maine forced a third and deciding game in their best-of-three quarterfinal series with the University of Massachusetts Lowell by virtue of a 2-0 win Saturday night at Alfond Arena.
Maine, now 17-16-3, and UMass Lowell, 19-15-4, will settle the series Sunday at 7.
Maine snapped a four-game Alfond Arena losing streak and a three-game losing streak overall while snapping Lowell’s six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2).
Abbott opened the scoring when a shot from the point was tipped in front by David deKastrozza, and UML goalie Carter Hutton pushed it out with his stick to the slot. The puck landed on Abbott’s stick and he swept a short wrist shot that trickled through Hutton’s pads.
Hutton was terrific in the first period as the Bears outshot Lowell 14-6 but couldn’t add to their lead. The River Hawks dominated the second period but Wilson was the story as he stopped all 12 shots he faced, including seven Grade-A saves.
One of those saves was a right-pad save off a Nick Shaus breakaway.
Tanner House gave Maine some breathing room at the 12:45 mark of the second period as Maine snapped an 0-for-8 power-play drought. Robby Dee carried the puck into the offensive zone and tapped it over to Gustav Nyquist. He beat a defenseman wide and slide the puck across to House, who one-timed it into the short-side corner from 12 feet out.
The Black Bears did a thorough job protecting the lead in the third period, outshooting Lowell 12-4 to finish with a 30-22 shot margin.