ORONO, Maine — The University of Massachusetts gave the University of Maine a bitter dose of its own medicine Saturday night and bounced back from a humbling 7-3 loss on Friday night to deal the 11th-ranked Black Bears a costly 4-1 setback in a men’s hockey game at Alfond Arena.
UMass, with just one previous road win this season (1-10-2), received a gift goal 51 seconds into the game on a miscue by goalie Dan Sullivan and never relinquished the lead.
Sophomore left wing Michael Pereira scored what proved to be the game-winner on the power play with 7:35 left in the second period.
Joey Diamond gave the Black Bears some life with a highlight-reel goal 30 seconds into the third period but Rocco Carzo’s goal off a four-on-two with 8:16 left in regulation gave UMass some critical breathing room and Eric Filiou added an empty-net goal.
UMass improved to 11-14-5 overall, 7-12-4 in Hockey East while the Black Bears fell to 18-10-3 and 13-9-2, respectively. Maine had its six-game Alfond Arena winning streak snapped.
“They won a lot of the one-on-one battles for the puck. They outworked us,” said Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill.
“We didn’t play hard enough,” agreed Diamond.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said “the better team won.
“They won more puck battles. That first goal energized them and we tried to do too much [individually],” said Whitehead, who watched his Black Bears often try to stick-handle through a maze of well-positioned Minutemen instead of dumping the puck in the offensive zone and establishing a forecheck.
Redshirt freshman Steven Guzzo snapped a 12-game goal-less drought in opening the scoring.
Sullivan lost sight of the puck behind the net and inadvertently carried it into the crease between his skates.
“I think the goalie lost it and I was lucky enough to be there and put it in,” said Guzzo.
Sullivan said, “I don’t know what happened.
“I tried to give the puck to [Ryan Hegarty] behind the net,” he said.
“That really helped. It gave us a lift,” said UMass coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon.
The Minutemen caught a break a few minutes later when Theo Andersson’s wrist shot off a faceoff to the left of goalie Kevin Boyle rang off the far post.
Boyle came up with five Grade-A saves in that first period, including a short-side stop on Brian Flynn’s two-on-one opportunity, and he and his mates also stymied two Black Bear power plays.
Pereira expanded the lead when he was positioned at the edge of the crease to the left of Sullivan and jammed the rebound of a Michael Marcou shot between Sullivan’s left skate and the post.
“I tried to get back but [Pereira] was there,” said Sullivan.
Diamond energized the crowd with his goal as he came out of the corner to the left of Boyle and, while falling to the ice, he lifted a wrister into the short-side corner.
Just 2:37 later, Maine’s John Parker was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind, which curtailed his team’s momentum.
Maine killed it off, catching a break when UMass’ T.J. Syner was assessed a minor penalty with 2:29 remaining on the Parker penalty.
But Carzo converted later as Marcou placed a perfect pass on his stick at the top of the crease and he chipped it past the helpless Sullivan.
The four-on-two was generated off a turnover by Matt Mangene in the offensive zone.
“I heard [Jon] Swavely calling for the puck so I dropped the puck for him. But he lost his stick and Theo Andersson and I bumped into each other,” said Mangene.
Cahoon was pleased with the victory.
“It’s an interesting team [I have],” he said. “We had a lot of energy left from last night. We pressured the puck pretty well and [Boyle] was solid.”
Boyle made 21 saves, including 11 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety.
He stopped a Diamond breakaway in the second period and a Flynn one-timer from the right circle in the third.
Boyle also received a lot of help from his teammates, who blocked 14 shots while effectively protecting the front of his net.
“We didn’t get enough traffic in front of him,” said Whitehead.
“He played really well. He deserved the win,” said Sullivan, who wound up with 19 saves of which five were of the Grade-A variety.