AMHERST, Mass. — The University of Maine men’s hockey team blew a 2-0 lead but killed off a penalty in the final 2:21 of overtime, thanks to a great save by Dan Sullivan, to snap its four-game losing streak and earn a 2-2 tie at the Mullins Center on Friday night.
Mark Anthoine and Brian Flynn staked Maine to a 2-0 lead in the first period but UMass rallied with goals in the second and third periods.
Sophomore right wing Anthoine, who snapped a 26-game goal-less drought with a goal in the 4-3 loss to UMass Lowell on Saturday night, scored again 5:55 into the game before Flynn extended the lead 6:54 later.
Michael Pereira cut the lead in half in the second period and Steven Guzzo tied it 5:09 into the third period after Maine squandered a five-minute power play.
Maine’s Joey Diamond was assessed a five-minute major for hitting from behind with 2:21 left in overtime but the Bears killed it off to cap a perfect seven-for-seven evening on the penalty kill.
The Minutemen’s Adam Phillips snuck down from the point and was set up perfectly from behind the net by Danny Hobbs but Sullivan threw up the glove and robbed the big defenseman.
“I knew he had a good shot and likes to come down the slot,”said Sullivan. “So I was able to come out to cut down the angle and I was able to get it with my glove.”
He made a pad save off a Phillips one-timer later in the kill.
“They had been doing a pretty good job getting in front to take my eyes away but I saw that one all the way,” said Sullivan who lauded his penalty killers for the job they did.
“I was really happy with the defense. They were real strong clearing the puck and getting it down the ice,” said Sullivan, who finished with 35 saves including 13 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety in an impressive performance.
Maine senior left wing Spencer Abbott said the penalty-killers did an excellent job during practice this week and that carried over into the game.
Maine had given up five power plays in 13 chances against UMass Lowell last weekend.
Guzzo said Maine’s penalty killers were strong on the puck “and did a good job down low (in the slot).”
“We had good goaltending and our guys had their heads on a swivel. They were more aware of the people cutting to the back door (weak side),” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead, who had mixed emotions about the tie.
“On one hand, it’s nice to get a point on the road against a team that is unbeaten at home. But it was disappointing not to get a win after having a 2-0 lead. It isn’t what we wanted but it’s a step (in the right direction).”
Maine is now 3-6-2 overall, 3-5-1 in Hockey East. UMass is 4-4-3 and extended its unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1). UMass is 4-0-2 at home.
“Maine played really hard,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon. “They were more purposeful than we were. Once we killed that five-minute major (spanning the end of the second period and into the third), the game changed and we played a good third period.”
Sullivan was sharp throughout and gave an indication of his performance early on when he stopped a breakaway two minutes into the game after Will O’Neill lost the puck. Eric Filiou busted right down the middle only to have Sullivan kick out his bid with his right pad.
Anthoine converted on the power play, giving Maine its fourth goal in its last five chances with the man-advantage.
Anthoine was stationed in the slot at the inner edge of the left faceoff circle and took a step back to gain some separation from a UMass defenseman.
Beattie came off the left boards and slid a short pass over to him and Anthoine’s one-timer beat goalie Jeff Teglia to the short side past his blocker.
Flynn made it 2-0 when he took a pass out from behind the net by Abbott on the inner half of the right circle and one-timed the puck past a screened Teglia, who had Diamond camped out right in front of him.
Maine had the better of the play in the first period, outshooting UMass 13-10.
Pereira made it 2-1 at the 11:11 mark of the middle period after Maine defenseman Jacob Rutt lost possession of the puck. The puck rolled off his stick and that created a three-on-one down low.
Conor Sheary fired it across to the base of the right circle where Pereira one-timed it into the short side corner before Sullivan could scramble across.
Guzzo tied it by jamming the puck past Sullivan after it had pinballed across the low slot.
“T.J. (Syner) threw it out front and it bounced to me. I moved it from my forehand to my backhand and tucked it in,” said Guzzo.
The Minutemen carried the play in the third period but Sullivan held them at bay.
Maine went one-for-three on power play compared to UMass’ 0-for-7.
“We have to stop taking penalties. If we don’t, we’re not going to win many games,” said Abbott.
Teglia wound up with 29 saves including 12 Grade-A’s.