ORONO — Finally!
Senior right wing Joey Diamond’s goal with 1:01 left in overtime gave the University of Maine its first win at Alfond Arena this season, 4-3 over UMass Lowell on Sunday afternoon.
Maine is now 1-8-4 at Alfond Arena and improved its overall record to 8-14-5 and its Hockey East mark to 4-9-5. Maine moved into eighth place with the triumph and is 3-0-1 in its last four games.
The top eight teams qualify for the Hockey East tournament.
UMass Lowell fell to 14-9-2 and 8-8-2.
Diamond’s OT goal, his second of the game and sixth in his last five games, resulted from an errant pass by UML’s Josh Holmstrom.
“I came off the bench and was able to pick off a pass and go in alone,” said Diamond who sliced in from left to right on UMass goalie Doug Carr. “I tried to get him to slide over to the far post, I stopped short and he kept going.”
Diamond calmly tucked it into the short side.
“The turnover happened quick. He was a left shot coming across and I was going to try to pokecheck it. But I decided against it,’ said Carr. “He put the brakes on hard, I tried to jab at it and get a piece of it but he stuffed it in.”
Holmstrom said “I should have chipped it (off the boards) out of the zone but I tried to make a play to the center of the ice,”
Holmstrom had nearly won it a few minutes earlier in OT, when he was set up perfectly in the the slot by Joseph Pendenza, but Maine goalie Martin Ouellette read the play and slid over to make a great save on the sizzling one-timer.
“It went underneath him, but he came across and made a nice save,” said Holmstrom.
Ouellette finished with 35 saves, including seven in the River Hawk-dominated overtime. He had 20 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves with five coming in OT.
Carr finished with 25 stops of which 12 were Grade-A’s.
Maine leveled the score twice in a lively second period after UMass Lowell had taken a pair of leads on goals by Riley Wetmore and Ryan McGrath.
Ryan Lomberg and Jake Rutt scored the equalizers.
All four second-period goals came on the power play.
Diamond’s first goal of the game staked Maine to a first-period lead before Lowell freshman Michael Fallon answered 14 seconds later with his first career goal.
Diamond said the victory was extremely satisfying.
“It feels great,” said Diamond, who also had an assist. “It was like a playoff game. The fans have been unbelievable. They have stayed behind us.
“We knew we weren’t going to go winless at the Alfond. But to win it the way we did…battling back and scoring four goals, which is something we haven’t done a lot this year, made it definitely a memorable night at the Alfond,” Diamond added.
It was only the fifth time Maine had scored more than three goals in a game and the first time Maine had scored more than two at Alfond Arena.
Diamond’s first-period goal was of the highlight-reel variety as he faked shots to evade two defenders before wristing the puck past Carr.
But Fallon tied it as the River Hawks buzzed the Maine net and Fallon shoveled a rebound past Ouellette from an acute angle.
Wetmore opened the second-period scoring at the 7:53 mark when he snapped home a McGrath rebound after Ouellette lost his goal stick.
Lomberg tied it 5:30 later when Rutt’s wrist shot from the point hit him and squirted to his left. Lomberg located the puck and swept it into the half-empty net.
UML had a two-man advantage spanning 1:25, and McGrath made it 3-2 with five seconds remaining in the five-on-four power play as he was positioned in the right circle and one-timed a Zack Kamrass rebound into the short side.
But Rutt responded 40 seconds later as he closed from the left point and wristed a screened shot past Carr from just beyond the top of the left circle.
“We took what they gave us. We threw a couple of pucks to the net and they went in,” said Rutt.
“I never saw it,” said Carr about Rutt’s goal. “I think it went in next to my pad to the far side.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said it was “very appropriate” that his team got its first home win on Military Appreciation Day “because the guys had to fight through a lot.”
He was referring to the injuries his team has sustained and overcoming the one-goal deficits.
“Earlier this season, we wouldn’t have tied this game let alone won it,” said Whitehead.
UML coach Norm Bazin said, “We played well enough to win. We had enough chances. But we didn’t close out the game (by expanding their leads).”