PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The University of Maine Black Bears’ slump-riddled power play cost them a valuable point Friday night.
A videotape review showed that a potential game-winning power-play goal by Maine’s Tanner House came a whisker after the final whistle so the Bears had to settle for a 3-3 men’s hockey overtime tie with Providence College.
Not only did the Black Bears go 0-for-8 on the power play, including chances in the third period and overtime, but the game-tying goal was a shorthanded score by sophomore right wing Chris Rooney. Maine is now in a 3-for-43 drought on the power play.
Maine is 6-3-4 overall, 4-2-2 in Hockey East. Providence is 6-5-4 and 3-3-4. The teams will play again Saturday night at 7:05.
Maine went on the power play with 1:37 left in overtime and had a wild flurry in the closing seconds. Gustav Nyquist regained the puck after PC goalie Alex Beaudry made a short-side save off him and he fed it to the unattended House, who swept it into the empty net as the buzzer went off.
“I knew the buzzer sounded the same time the puck was going in the net,” said Maine senior center and captain House.
House took the call in stride but said special teams play was the difference in the game.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances and then we gave up a shorthanded goal,” said House. “You’ve got to give them credit for coming back strong. And we’ve got to learn how to play with a lead.”
Rooney’s tying goal, the fifth shorthander allowed by Maine, came with 4:50 remaining in regulation and enabled the Friars to erase a third one-goal deficit.
He intercepted a point-to-point pass by Nick Pryor, pulled away from Maine’s Spencer Abbott and beat Maine goalie Shawn Sirman with a 20-foot wrister to the blocker side. Pryor was playing in his first game after undergoing hip surgery last spring.
“I tried to force a pass to Spencer (Abbott) but (Rooney) got the shaft of his stick on it and it was off to the races,” said Pryor.
“I jumped their defenseman (Pryor) after we lost the faceoff and, luckily, I was able to get my stick on the pass and the puck squirted out of the zone,” said Rooney. “I tried a little shoulder movement (fake) and I saw an opening on the right side over (Sirman’s) pad and under his glove. I was able to squeak it by him.”
Sirman said, “I backed in a little too early.”
“I felt bad for Nick,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I thought he played a great game as did Sirman and (freshman right wing Jon) Swavely.”
Abbott supplied the Black Bears with a pair of one-goal leads in a frenzied first period but the Friars’ Kyle MacKinnon and Alex Velischek answered shortly afterward.
Whitehead said he was “disappointed” with the tie.
“We had plenty of chances to go up 4-2 or 4-3,” said Whitehead. “I thought we got stronger as the game wore on.”
PC coach Tim Army was pleased.
“Any time you can come back from a goal down in the third period and get a point, it’s always good,” said Army.
Joey Diamond’s second-period goal gave Maine its final lead.
Abbott opened the scoring just 45 seconds into the game but MacKinnon retaliated 18 seconds later. Abbott scored his second at the 12:28 mark before Velischek drew the Friars level 3:21 later.
Abbott’s ninth goal of the season was set up by Brice O’Connor and Robby Dee. O’Connor fed the puck ahead to Dee in the neutral zone and Dee found all kinds of open ice as he drove to the net front. His short backhander “went in off my leg,” said Abbott.
MacKinnon tied it when Cumberland’s Kevin Hart took a shot from the right point that was kicked out by Sirman, making his first start since Oct. 22.
MacKinnon gobbled up the rebound, took a stride around Sirman and slid the puck inside the left post from 12 feet out.
Abbott notched his 10th on a breakaway created by a Mark Nemec pass.
Abbott cut across the low slot and was able to beat Beaudry to the far post before tucking it inside the post as he was falling to the ice.
PC tied it following a wild flurry at the Maine net front.
Sirman appeared to have the puck tied up but it was pried loose, went behind the net and eventually squirted to Velischek at the left point and he fired a snap shot into the short side before Sirman could scramble across.
The energetic Friars carried the play for most of the period and hit three posts.
PC held a 17-13 edge in shots on goal.
Both teams did a better job defending their net front for the remainder of the the second period as the number of scoring chances were reduced.
But Diamond restored a one-goal lead for the Bears at the 1:13 mark as he positioned himself at the top of the crease and one-timed Dee’s pass from behind the net past Beaudry.
Later in the period, PC’s Tim Schaller had a breakaway after coming out of the penalty box.
Schaller made several head fakes but elevated his backhander way over the net.