ORONO, Maine — University of Maine junior left wing Connor Leen’s power-play goal with 1:33 left in overtime gave the Black Bears a thrilling 3-2 men’s hockey win over UMass Friday night at Alfond Arena.
Devin Shore fought off a check to the side of the net and sent a short cross-crease pass to Leen, who roofed a one-timer.
“(Ryan) Lomberg forced a turnover and Devin came out from behind the net with the puck,” said Leen. “I just tried to get into a good spot and Devin got it to me.”
“Those broken plays are tough (for goalies),” said UMass junior goalie Steve Mastalerz. who turned in a superb 34-save performance.
Maine is now 2-2 while UMass fell to 2-3. The teams will play against Saturday night at 7:30.
The game turned into a goaltending duel between former Kimball Union teammates Martin Ouellette and Mastalerz..
Both teams had glorious chances in the third period but the goalies made some brilliant point-blank saves to extend the game to overtime.
“It was fun. He played a great game,” said Ouellette, who finished with 27 stops.
Maine coach Red Gendron said his team made its share of mistakes “but they stuck with it and stuck with it” and were rewarded for their perseverance.
He was also pleased that Maine’s power play scored twice after an abysmal 0-for-7 showing in a 2-1 win over Bentley last Saturday night.
“That’s good for us and our confidence,” said Gendron.
UMass coach John Micheletto said his team played “poorly” for 40 minutes before playing with more conviction in the third period.
“We didn’t get into the guts of the ice in the first two periods. We played on the perimeter,” said Micheletto. “You can’t play one period and expect to win in this league.”
“You can’t just play 20 minutes and win on the road,” agreed UMass senior center Branden Gracel.
Mark Anthoine and Ben Hutton staked Maine to a 2-0 lead before Ray Pigozzi shaved the lead in half late in the initial period.
Conor Sheary tied it against the run of play in the second period on the power play.
Anthoine opened the scoring at the 6:48 mark by finishing off a nifty passing sequence involving linemates Steven Swavely and Josh Henke.
Swavely had the puck in the neutral zone and chipped the puck off the right-wing boards to Henke.
Henke sprinted down the right wing in a two-on-one with Anthoine and made a precise cross-ice pass that Anthoine chipped over the blocker of Mastalerz.
Hutton made it 2-0 while the Black Bears were enjoying a two-man advantage.
Shore circled with the puck between the faceoff circles and spied Hutton at the base of the right circle.
Hutton one-timed the past from a difficult angle past Mastalerz, who scrambled across but had the shot go over his pad. Henke also picked up an assist.
Maine nearly extended the lead later in the period when Ryan Lomberg’s wrister from the top of the right circle but Mastalerz only to rattle off the far post.
Just moments later, Pigozzi chased down a puck in the neutral zone and was able to generate a little separation down the left wing before wristing the puck past Ouellette into the short side corner.
Mastalerz was the story of the second period.
He made four important saves to keep the Minutemen within a goal along with a vital pokecheck that perhaps saved another goal.
He held the short side to stop Blaine Byron’s wrister off a two-on-one and again cut down the angle to rob Connor Leen, who had a partial break-in down the left wing.
Sheary got the equalizer with a terrific individual effort.
Sheary won the puck at center ice and used his quickness to fight off a pokecheck from Maine defenseman Jake Rutt and break around him.
Sheary moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand and snapped a quick wrister past Ouellette’s blocker into the far corner,
Maine outshot UMass 37-29.