LOWELL, Mass. — Three streaks came to an end for the University of Maine men’s hockey team in Friday night’s loss to Providence but the 12th-ranked Black Bears started three new ones in Saturday night’s 2-1 victory over No. 7 UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center.
Junior right wing Matt Mangene’s power-play goal in the second period broke a 1-1 tie and came one night after the Black Bears had their consecutive string of games with at least one power-play goal snapped at 19.
They had also had their six-game winning streak and seven-game unbeaten skein (6-0-1) ended.
Sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan made 35 saves, including 15 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety. He made two game-saving stops in the final 13 seconds, the first one coming on a one-timer from the left point by Chad Ruhwedel and the second on a shot from Riley Wetmore through a maze of players.
“It was a great win,” said Sullivan. “They’re a very tough team.
“Our forwards were all coming back. They were thinking defense-first and it really paid off,” added Sullivan.
“(Sullivan) was awesome,” said Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill.
UMass Lowell was the nation’s third-highest scoring team ( 3.54 goals per game) and had averaged 4.1 per game in a 10-game home winning streak that was snapped. It was UML’s lowest output in 12 home games.
“They played really well and their goalie was outstanding,” said UMass Lowell senior left wing David Vallorani, whose second-period breakaway was stopped by Sullivan.
Vallorani also said Maine did a nice job protecting the lead in the third period.
“They played a good neutral zone game in the third,” said Vallorani, who was one of UML’s most dangerous forwards and had a team-high five shots on goal. “They took away the middle of the ice. They made it hard to get it in deep and their defensemen did a really good job getting it out.”
Kyle Beattie scored a first-period goal for the Black Bears but Colin Wright equalized with 4:38 remaining in the second period before Mangene scored 3:15 later.
Maine improved to 17-9-3 overall, 12-8-2 in Hockey East. UMass Lowell fell to 19-8 and 14-7 and had its five-game winning streak snapped.
Junior center Kyle Beattie, who had scored just one goal in his previous 23 games, supplied the Bears with a 1-0 lead against the run of play and he set up Mangene’s tap-in goal with a precise cross-ice pass.
“Kyle had a great game. He’s wanted a game like that and he deserves it. He’s been working his tail off,” said O’Neill.
Beattie’s pass to Mangene had to be perfect because he had to slide the puck through a couple of River Hawk defensemen.
“They had shut down our (primary) options: (Mark) Anthoine in the slot and (Adam) Shemansky behind the net,” explained Beattie, who was in the left circle. “But (Mangene) was able to get into a nice little pocket and I was able to find him. He did a good job putting it in because I passed it pretty hard.”
Mangene said that they were able to draw the two UML forwards up high because the River Hawks were trying to take away the point-to-point (defenseman-to-defenseman) pass.
“I was able to sneak back door and find an opening. Kyle put a great seam pass on my stick,” Mangene said.
“That pass had eyes. It went past two of our sticks,” said UML goalie Doug Carr, who made 32 saves including 13 Grade-A’s.
The River Hawks outshot Maine 14-6 in the first period but Sullivan was sharp and Beattie wristed the puck through Carr’s legs with 3:15 remaining after Ryan Hegarty forced a turnover.
“(Hegarty) made a real nice play by stepping up on their kid. That caused a loose puck and I was able to steal it and get to the slot,” said Beattie. “There was a kid all over me and the puck was bouncing so I just threw it on net and I think it deflected in off one of their defensemen.”
Wright tied it with a wrister from the circle to Sullivan’s right after gathering in a loose puck.
Earlier in the period, Vallorani was robbed twice by Sullivan as he tried to go between the pads on his breakaway and also got a rebound attempt.
With Carr pulled in favor of the extra attacker, Sullivan was able to extend his right pad to kick out Ruhwedel’s blast with 13 seconds left and he gloved Wetmore’s wrister from the slot as time elapsed.
“Half the net was open. I thought it was going in. But it went into (Sullivan’s) glove,” said UML senior center Matt Ferreira. “It’s a game of inches.”