ORONO — The University of Maine entered Friday night’s game against Boston University with the nation’s worst power-play percentage among 59 teams at 9.8 percent.
The power play scored a season-high three goals but it was a potential fourth one that was disallowed with 5:19 left in the third period that cost the Black Bears a victory as they had to settle for a 3-3 overtime with with Boston University at Alfond Arena.
Devin Shore had appeared to give Maine the lead with a one-timer off a Jake Rutt pass but, upon review, it was ruled that Maine’s Ryan Lomberg had interfered with BU freshman goalie Matt O’Connor.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said he preferred not to comment on the ruling.
O’Connor said he was interfered with.
“There was a guy in the crease and there was a little contact. If there wasn’t [contact], I think I would have been able to get across and make the save,” O’Connor said. “It was a judgement call. I’m sure the referees will be criticized. It was nice to have one go my way.”
Shore took the call in stride.
“It was tough. But I respect the call,” Shore said. “We still got a big point.”
The non-goal came just a few minutes after Maine’s Joey Diamond had rung a wrist shot off the far post past the screened O’Connor.
Maine’s erased a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. Maine went 3-for-8 on the power play on the evening.
“We’ve tried to simplify it and just get pucks to the net. It was awesome tonight,” said freshman center Shore, who had two assists for the first multi-point game of his career.
Maine is now 8-15-6 overall, 4-10-6 in Hockey East. BU is 13-12-2 and 10-7-2. The two teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Maine freshman center Steve Swavely erased a 2-0 deficit with power-play goals late in the first period and early in the second period and Diamond gave Maine its first lead of the 5:27 mark of the middle period.
BU’s Ahti Oksanen tied it on the power play at the 8:02 mark of the third period when his screened wrist shot from the midpoint sailed past Maine goalie Martin Ouellette on the glove side.
“Ben Rosen had an awesome screen,” Oksanen said. “I saw the corner open.”
“I never saw it,” Ouellette said.
First-period goals 10 seconds apart by Matt Nieto and Wade Megan staked the Terriers to a 2-0 lead as they monopolized the puck thanks to their quickness and tenacity and Maine’s sloppy play in the defensive zone.
But Swavely snapped a 27-game goalless drought with a crucial goal at the 18:36 mark of the first period that turned the momentum and energized the crowd.
Shore passed it to Rutt, who flipped the puck to the net.
O’Connor made the initial save and kicked out Lomberg’s follow-up backhander, but the puck spilled across the goalmouth and Swavely tapped it into the empty net.
Swavely tied it 1:12 into the second period from a similar spot just outside the crease.
This time it was a power move by Shore that created the loose puck as he muscled his way to the net front. O’Connor held his ground, but the puck rolled across the crease where Swavely swatted it home.
“The rebounds were just sitting there for me,” Swavely said.
Diamond gave Maine the lead by stickhandling neatly across the high slot before beating the screened O’Connor with a rising wrist shot to the glove side.
Nieto and Megan capitalized on a pair of Black Bear turnovers to stake the Terriers to a 2-0 lead.
Nieto took the puck from Maine defenseman Conor Riley and fed a quick pass to Evan Rodrigues.
Rodrigues returned the puck to Nieto who snapped a 14-foot wrist shot into the far corner.
Just after the ensuing faceoff, Maine’s Brice O’Connor lost the puck to Cason Hohmann in the corner and Hohnmann slid the puck to the middle of the low slot where Megan tucked a 10-footer just inside the far post.
Maine outshot BU 36-26 despite being outshot 11-3 over the game’s first 12 minutes.
“It was nice to get a point. [The non-goal] was an unlucky break; Ryan just grazed [O’Connor],” Swavely said. “It happened fast.”
Swavely had an assist to go with his two goals for his first multi-point game.
BU coach Jack Parker, whose team entered the game 1-5-1 in its previous seven games, said he was pleased with the tie, although he felt his team “shot itself in the foot” by taking so many penalties.
“The guys competed [hard] tonight,” Parker said.
Ouellette finished with 11 Grade-A (high-percentage) saves among his 23 while O’Connor had 18 Grade-A stops among his 33.