ORONO, Maine — Two University of Vermont freshmen scored their first career goals and that, plus the waving off of a potential game-tying goal with 6.5 seconds left, enabled the Catamounts to post a 2-1 men’s hockey win over the University of Maine Black Bears Friday night at Alfond Arena.
Center Robert Polesello’s goal with 12:16 left in the third period broke a 1-1 tie after defenseman Yvan Pattyn had scored a second-period equalizer for UVM, which is now 3-7-2 overall and 3-5-2 in Hockey East.
Maine senior right wing Joey Diamond scored a first-period goal for Maine to extend his goal-scoring streak against Vermont to five straight games.
The loss kept the Black Bears winless at home this season as Maine will enter Saturday’s 7 p.m. series finale with an 0-6-1 mark at Alfond Arena.
It was Vermont’s first win on the road after three losses and two ties.
Maine fell to 2-10-1 and 1-6-1, respectively.
Jake Rutt’s wrist shot from the left point had appeared to tie the game but, after a video review, the referees ruled that Diamond was in the crease impeding goalie Brody Hoffman.
Diamond and Maine coach Tim Whitehead wouldn’t comment on the play although Whitehead did tell the media gathering they could draw their own conclusions by watching the replay.
Hoffman said, “I was trying to go down into the butterfly but there was a guy in front of me so I couldn’t go down.”
However, he also said he was prepared to deal with the situation if the goal had been allowed.
“I’ve been involved in five or six video reviews and two or three have gone my way and the others haven’t,” said Hoffman.
Diamond said the Black Bears have had trouble putting together a full 60 minutes and that was the case again Friday night.
Whitehead called the loss “disappointing” and said each player has to play “five percent better” on Saturday night in order to improve.
The Catamounts pulled off the win despite being without three injured forwards who play on their top two lines.
It all boiled down to the final 20 minutes and the Catamounts were clearly the better team in the third period.
“We outworked them,” said Hoffman. “The guys did a great job clearing rebounds and clearing the front of the net.”
“We still came after them in the third period and we played smart,” said University of Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon “This was a real good team win. And we were fortunate that the call went our way in the third period. I know it hurts [Maine]. I’ve been on the other side of a call like that before.”
Sneddon did feel the referees made the right call.
In the third period, the Catamounts were able to sustain their forecheck more effectively than Maine and, after gaining the lead, they did an exceptional job protecting it by clogging up the neutral zone and pressuring Maine all over the ice. They had several chances to expand the lead but couldn’t convert.
Polesello’s game-winner came off a two-on-two with Chris McCarthy.
McCarthy carried the puck down the left wing and slid a short pass to the streaking Polesello, whose rising one-timer sailed over the glove of Maine goalie Martin Ouellette.
“He put it up over my shoulder,” said Ouellette who added that he’ll have to watch the replay to see if he was at fault.
Both goalies finished with 31 saves but Ouellette faced more Grade-A (high-percentage) shots and was the busier of the two. Ouellette finished with 15 Grade-A saves to Hoffman’s 11.
Diamond staked Maine to a 1-0 lead late in the first period but Pattyn tied it up at the 4:51 mark of the middle period.
On Pattyn’s goal, the puck was trapped under the body of Maine’s Steven Swavely in the high slot and it squirted free to Jacob Fallon.
Fallon got the puck over to Pattyn at the right point and his screened snap shot beat Ouellette to the blocker side.
Vermont had a two-man advantage spanning 47 seconds later in the period but the Black Bears did a nice job protecting Ouellette and getting some vital clears.
Maine played much better in the second period, outshooting Vermont 12-7 after being outshot 14-10 in the initial period.
Diamond, one of five players who tied for the national lead in power-play goals with 11 last year, notched his first power-play goal of the season and snapped an eight-game goalless drought with 3:07 left in the first period.
Diamond gained custody of the puck in the high slot, maneuvered from right to left, and took a 25-foot wrist shot that glanced off a UVM defenseman’s hip and beat Hoffman to the blocker side.
It gave Maine, which entered the game with the nation’s worst power-play percentage (5.4 percent), a power-play goal in three of its last four games.
Adam Shemansky picked up an assist.