Late-game trend evident in Maine hockey tie

Posted Jan. 22, 2011, at 9:58 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 23, 2011, at 7:31 p.m.

BOSTON — Whenever you rally from a 2-0 deficit on the road to earn a tie against a team that has won four of its last five games, there has to be a measure of satisfaction.

But when the tying goal comes with 2:36 remaining and it reflects a frustrating trend, there is also disappointment.

Wade MacLeod’s late third-period gave the Northeastern men’s hockey team a 3-3 overtime tie with the University of Maine Black Bears at Matthews Arena Saturday night.

It was the sixth goal Maine has allowed in the last 5:07 of a game and it is 1-2-3 in those games.

Tanner House’s second goal of the game, 5:50 into the third period, had supplied Maine with its first lead at 3-2.

Maine is now 11-6-5 overall, 8-4-3 in Hockey East. Northeastern is 7-10-5, 6-7-4.

Both teams extended their unbeaten streaks to three games (2-0-1).

“As we all know, it’s pretty tough to win on the road in Hockey East,” said Maine captain House. “We battled back very hard to take the lead. I’m very proud of the guys.

“But, like we’ve seen in the past, we’ve got to learn how to close games out. It’s good to get a point but two would have been better.”

MacLeod’s tying goal came off the tip-in off Anthony Bitetto’s shot from the left point.

“I saw (Bitetto) pinching in from the point so I tried to get to the front of the net,” said MacLeod. “I was off to the side (to the right of Maine goalie Shawn Sirman) and tried to bank it in. It wound up hitting off (Sirman’s) skate and it went in near post.”

It was MacLeod’s fifth goal and 13th career point in 11 games against Maine.

Maine coach Tim Whitehead said a freshman mistake played a role in the tying goal.

“Jon Swavely had the puck (at center ice) and instead of rolling it in behind their net, he walked the puck up the wall,” said Whitehead.

The Huskies were able to pry the puck loose and send it into the Maine zone and the puck came off the stick of Steve Silva back to Bitetto.

Whitehead said Swavely and his other young players “gained a lot of experience” from playing in a game like this one.

”Jon has played really well,” said Whitehead who was pleased with the effort and point.

Maine had a power play over the final 1:25 of overtime but NU goalie Chris Rawlings made a nice short-side save off Spencer Abbott’s blistering one-timer from the top of the left circle and the Huskies survived thanks to a few fortuitous bouncing pucks that hopped over the stick of Will O’Neill at the point.

“The ice was choppy and they did a good job,” said House, who now has three consecutive two-point games.

Abbott had a role in the go-ahead goal when he absorbed a bone-rattling check at center ice and the puck squirted into the NU zone.

“One of their defensemen mishandled it and, luckily, I was able to get right on him,” said House. “I got the puck and released the shot quickly.”

The puck broke beat Rawlings through the five-hole.

The desperate Huskies pressed for the equalizer and were able to sustain their forecheck and keep Maine pinned in its own end for long stretches leading up to the game-tying goal.

The Huskies took a 2-0 lead with goals 1:05 apart in the second period from Bitetto and Mike McLaughlin but Maine answered with a pair of power-play goals 55 seconds late in the period off the sticks of Brian Flynn and House.

Bitetto opened the scoring on the power play 54 seconds into the period. McNeely fed the puck to MacLeod, who fired a shot from the top of the right circle. Sirman got his chest on the shot but the rebound spilled to his right and Bitetto tapped in into the open net.

McLaughlin extended the lead off a three-on-one as he trailed the play and one-timed a Rob Dongara drop pass over Sirman’s glove.

Sirman came up with some important saves to keep the Bears within two and the Bear power play came through to tie it.

NU killed off a two-man advantage that spanned 1:20 but the Huskies had seven seconds to kill off the one-man advantage when Flynn scored on a delayed penalty call.

Nyquist came off the bench as the extra attacker, did a nice job keeping the puck in at the blue line and fought off a check as he skated right to left across the slot before snapping a wrist shot that Flynn deflected past Rawlings, ending the goalie’s shutout streak at 167:12.

On the ensuing power play, House levelled the game when he passed the puck back to Abbott at the left point and drove to the net front where he tipped it behind Rawlings.

Maine outshot Northeastern 37-22.

Rawlings finished with 15 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 34 while Sirman made eight Grade-A’s among his 19.

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