ORONO — The University of Maine Black Bears were on the verge of a frustrating men’s hockey evening at the Alfond Arena Friday.
Despite an impressive performance in which they outshot Providence College 37-17 through three periods, the Black Bears found themselves going into overtime after Providence rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period.
But junior left wing Brian Flynn’s goal just 48 seconds into overtime gave the Black Bears a 4-3 victory and two badly needed points.
Maine is now 10-6-4 overall and 7-4-2 in Hockey East while improving its home record to 7-1-1. The Bears host Boston College Sunday at 7 p.m.
Providence fell to 7-9-5 and 3-7-4, respectively.
Flynn’s game-winner was set up by linemates Tanner House and Gustav Nyquist.
Nyquist fed the puck to House who took a shot from the high slot.
“The puck was rolling a bit, which was good because the goalie (Justin Gates) couldn’t control the rebound,” said House.
“The shot hit me in the chest and I couldn’t get a hold of it,” said Gates.
Flynn swooped on it as he cut across the low slot from right to left and moved it to his backhand before flipping it home before Gates could scramble across.
“I got lucky. The puck dropped to my feet and I was able to kick it over to my backhand,” said Flynn, whose goal was his second of the night and 11th of the season.
He snapped a three-game goalless drought and he now has seven goals in his last seven games.
“That’s Brian’s office,” grinned House.
PC had tied it 3-3 on goals by Jordan Kremyr and Tim Schaller.
Kremyr broke down the left wing and his wrist shot from the left circle broke off the glove of Maine goalie Martin Ouellette and rolled across the goal line at the 1:22 mark.
Schaller tied it with 3:44 remaining as the Black Bears had trouble with the puck behind the net and turned it over.
The puck squirted out front and the alert Schaller raced to the net and shoveled a backhander past Ouellette.
Spencer Abbott’s power-play goal with 10 seconds left in the second period enabled the Black Bears to take their 3-1 lead into the third period.
Providence had killed off 40 of the opponents’ previous 41 power plays, but Abbott, positioned at the right point, one-timed a pass from Flynn past Gates to regain the momentum 3:58 after Kyle MacKinnon had cut the lead in half.
Freshman Jon Swavely staked Maine to a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal 13:18 into the first period.
Flynn extended the lead 10:46 into the second period before MacKinnon scored from a near-impossible angle 5:06 later.
The Black Bears’ Joey Diamond, who was only inserted back into the lineup Thursday after suffering a shoulder injury in last Saturday’s 7-1 loss to Merrimack College, was assessed a five-minute major for contact-to-the-head-elbowing and a two-minute minor for boarding at the 8:39 mark of the first period. He also received a game misconduct.
But the hustling Swavely drew a tripping penalty on PC’s Steven Shamanski to create a four-on-four and relieve the PC power-play pressure. He broke the scoreless deadlock with a wrister from the base of the right circle that slipped between the pads of Gates.
“Theo Andersson gave me a pass and he went to the net. I saw the five-hole, but I was just trying to put the shot on net,” said Swavely.
That enabled the Bears to not only survive the seven-minute disadvantage, they came out of it leading 1-0.
“We had a chance to bury them,” said Friars senior left wing and co-captain Ian O’Connor. “But we showed a lot of fight coming back.”
Providence went 0-for-4 on the power play.
“Swavely played a great game,” said Maine senior defenseman Josh Van Dyk, who credited Maine’s effective penalty kill to pressuring the puck and forcing the Friars into turnovers.
Flynn’s second-period goal came when a Will O’Neill point shot pinballed off House’s skate to Flynn and he calmly moved it from his backhand to his forehand and deposited it into the short side.
MacKinnon scored when he carried the puck down the left wing and wristed it in from the corner.
“It went between my skate and the post. I should have had it,” said Ouellette.
Ouellette finished with 14 saves, including six of the Grade-A variety.
Gates played well in defeat, making 35 saves, including 12 Grade-A’s.
“Maine’s a tough team to play against,” said O’Connor, who was playing against younger brother Brice, Maine’s freshman defenseman. “Their top six forwards are as good as any in the country.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said, “I was really impressed with Providence’s determination. They were down and out, but they came back.
“And I was really proud of our guys. Our top players played great today. I challenged them after the (7-1) loss at Merrimack last Saturday and they came through,” said Whitehead.
“The guys did a great job defensively,” said Ouellette, who will probably get the start Sunday since freshman goalie Dan Sullivan suffered what Whitehead described as a “lower body injury” during the morning skate on Friday.
Flynn had an assist to go with his goal, while O’Neill and House each had two assists.
Robby Dee had an assist to extend his points streak to six games (4 goals, 3 assists).