LOWELL, Mass — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey season came to an end 1:50 into overtime on Friday night when Derek Arnold’s goal sent the top-seeded University of Massachusetts Lowell to the Hockey East semifinals with a 2-1 victory over the No. 8 Black Bears.
The River Hawks created a two-on-one and Scott Wilson fed Christian Folin for a point-blank attempt.
Maine goalie Martin Ouellette made a terrific save, but teammate Mark Nemec, hustling back to try to help out his goalie, slid into him and took him out, leaving an empty net.
Michael Fallon knocked the puck down with his glove and swiped at it before Arnold swept it into the empty net.
“I saw the two-on-one and broke to the net,” said Arnold, who had initially given Maine a verbal commitment several years ago but changed his mind and went to UMass Lowell. “Fallon had his hand on the puck and put it down and spun around. The puck was sitting in the crease and I whacked it in.”
The play was reviewed for several minutes to see if Fallon had made a hand pass and the goal was upheld.
Arnold said Fallon got a piece of his stick on the puck after he handled it which would eliminate the hand pass.
“I made the first save and I didn’t know where the rebound went,” said Ouellette. “I was out of the net, I saw the puck sitting in the crease and [Arnold] pushed it in.”
UMass Lowell improved to 24-10-2 after sweeping the quarterfinal series 2-0, while Maine finished up at 11-19-8.
Ouellette was brilliant as he finished with 35 saves of which 19 were of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety.
“He was outstanding,” said UML coach Norm Bazin. “He made a couple of stops on shots I thought were already in.”
Those stops included a couple of breakaways by Terrence Wallin and Wilson. ,
Connor Hellebuyck wound up with 18 saves of which six were Grade-A’s.
The River Hawks’ Fallon tied it with 16 minutes left in the third period.
Scott Wilson circled the net and tried to stuff the puck between Ouellette’s left skate and the post.
Ouellette made the save, but Fallon poked the rebound home.
“The puck was under my pad and (Fallon) pushed (my pad and the puck) into the net,” said Ouellette.
The goal was reviewed and upheld.
Devin Shore’s second-period power-play goal gave Maine a 1-0 lead to take into the final period, but the Bears lost the services of leading goal scorer Joey Diamond with 1:56 left in the second period when he was assessed his second five-minute major of the game, this one for kicking UMass Lowell’s Joe Houk. Diamond also received a game disqualification and that carries a one-game suspension so if Maine had forced a game three on Sunday, he wouldn’t have been able to play.
“When Diamond left, their sense of urgency went up two notches,” said UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “Whenever a team loses one of its best players, each of the other players pick it up 10 percent. That’s concerning. They outcompeted us for a 10-12 minute spurt. I have great respect for their team. They competed really hard.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said he was proud of his team.
“They battled and fought hard against a real good team,” said Whitehead. “This team has come a long way. It doesn’t even resemble the team they were early in the season.”
He sympathized with Diamond.
“You live by the sword and die by the sword,” said Whitehead. “If it wasn’t for Joey, we wouldn’t even be here. He scored some big goals for us. But he had a tough night. He is a fierce competitor.”
Shore scored at the 7:51 mark courtesy of a faceoff win by Ryan Lomberg.
Lomberg replaced Steven Swavely, who had been kicked out of the faceoff circle for an infraction.
Shore received the puck from Lomberg, took some quick steps from right to left across the blue line to get a better shooting angle and wristed a shot through a screen past Hellebuyck.
“It wasn’t a hard shot but Steven Swavely was screening in front,” said Shore.
Maine’s struggling penalty-killing units, which had allowed seven power-play goals in the previous 20 chances spanning the last four games, came through beginning in the first period after Diamond received his first five-minute major for charging the goalie 8:59 into the period.
The Black Bears did an effective job getting their bodies and sticks in shooting lanes and making important clearances. They wound up killing off 16 minutes of UMass Lowell power play time.
“The coaches made an adjustment (from Thursday night’s game). We kept them out of the middle,” said Shore.
Ouellette said his teammates did a “great job” on the penalty kill and in clearing the net front.
“I was able to see the puck much better tonight,” said Ouellette.
Maine lost to UMass Lowell 4-2 on Thursday night..
The River Hawks had just three shots on goal during the first major.
One of those shots required a superb save from Ouellette.
Chad Ruhwedel sent River Hawk goal-scoring leader Wilson in alone on Ouellette after Wilson split Maine’s two defenseman.
Wilson made a head fake and tried to roof a backhander but Ouellette made a glove save.