LOWELL, Mass. — The scoring famine continued for the University of Maine hockey team Friday night.
Despite Maine taking a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by freshman defenseman Ben Hutton in the first period, the UMass Lowell River Hawks used second-period goals 2:45 apart from senior center Riley Wetmore and junior right wing Josh Holmstrom to beat the Black Bears 2-1 at Tsongas Arena.
UMass Lowell improved to 2-3-1 overall and 0-3-1 in Hockey East. Maine suffered its seventh straight loss and is now 1-9 and 0-5, respectively.
It is the seventh time in 10 games Maine has been limited to one goal or less. Maine has now scored 11 goals in its 10 games.
Maine regained the services of senior center Kyle Beattie, who missed the last four games after suffering his second concussion, but lost the services of leading scorer Joey Diamond in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead would not disclose the injury, but said it was very unlikely that Diamond would play when the two teams meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Doug Carr finished with 24 saves for the River Hawks while Martin Ouellette had 23 for the Black Bears although he faced many more Grade-A (high-percentage) attempts and scramble situations.
UMass Lowell had more sustained pressure as Maine rarely generated any two or three-shot flurries like UML did.
“Marty was awesome,” said Maine sophomore center Stu Higgins. “We played solid defensively but we didn’t capitalize on our chances. We didn’t generate enough chances.”
“I’m pleased to get the two points,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “We played a very good second period. We were able to possess the puck and get to the net front.”
Wetmore, UMass Lowell’s leading scorer last season, collected his first point of the season when he scored the tying goal 4:21 into the second period and Holmstrom gave UML the lead at the 7:06 mark.
Wetmore benefited from a fortuitous bounce for his goal.
The River Hawks buzzed around the Maine net and, during the scramble, Beattie tried to sweep the puck to the corner.
But it hit a skate and it eventually wound up on the stick of Wetmore after Ouellete had made a pad save on a bouncing puck.
“Ouellette got his skate on the shot but luckily he didn’t get enough of it,” said Wetmore. “Ouellette played very well for them.”
“That gave us some extra jump in our step,” said Bazin.
The River Hawks were rewarded for their energy with another nice bounce.
Chad Ruhwedel took a shot from the point that glanced off a Maine shin guard in front over to Holmstrom and he jammed it home from point-blank range.
“I got a piece of that one, too,” said Ouellette.
A second-period boarding penalty on Zack Kamrass stemmed UML’s momentum even though the Black Bears didn’t score.
Maine killed off a penalty a few minutes later and finished strong, almost tying it when Nickj Pryor’s wrister from the midpoint squirted between Carr’s pads only to have Carr alertly fall back on it before it crossed the goal line.
Freshmen Devin Shore and Hutton teamed up on Maine’s first-period goal.
Shore gained possession of the puck in the corner to the left of Carr and slipped the puck back to the right point to Hutton.
Hutton waited a second as a screen formed in front of Carr and his rising wrister beat Carr into the upper short-side corner over the goalie’s glove.
It was Maine’s second power-play goal in 45 chances on the season.
Ouellette made five Grade-A saves in the first period to Carr’s two.
“It was a good team effort for all three periods,” said Ouellette. “We played well but we fell short again.”
“We played a pretty good game except for that five-minute span in the second period,” said Beattie.
Whitehead said his team “did a lot of good things” including adapting to Diamond’s absence. Freshmen Will Merchant and Ryan Lomberg took turns playing on Diamond’s line with Beattie and Connor Leen.
Whitehead said they had a few defensive breakdowns on the two goals but did a good job clearing rebounds throughout the game.
The Black Bears pulled Ouellette with a minute left but couldn’t score the equalizer as Carr came up with a few saves and his mates did a nice job clearing out the net front.