ORONO — University of Maine men’s hockey team head coach Red Gendron quoted a phrase credited to NHL Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky that says, in a nutshell, you won’t score on 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
Gendron harps on his players to shoot the puck on net when they get the chance and keep it low.
Freshman left wing Blaine Byron did just that Sunday night, scoring on the power play with 3:23 left to break a 2-2 tie and give Maine a 4-2 victory over No. 7 UMass Lowell at Alfond Arena.
It was Maine’s third power-play goal in five chances and it marked the first time this season Maine had scored more than two power-play goals in a game.
“The power play came through and we played pretty well defensively against one of the best teams in the country,” said Gendron. “[Martin Ouellette] came up with some phenomenal saves and we did a better job blocking shots.”
UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin said his team “wasn’t at its best” but praised Maine’s performance.
“Maine did an outstanding job. Our third period was our best period but we didn’t finish our chances. We had opportunities,” said Bazin.
It was the first time UMass Lowell had allowed more than two power-plays goal in a game.
Maine is now 7-6-1 overall and 4-2-1 in Hockey East. The Black Bears are 7-1 at home,.
UMass Lowell fell to 11-5 and 4-2 after having its six-game winning streak snapped. UMass Lowell, an NCAA Frozen Four team last year, had also won its last six road games and entered the game 6-1 on the road.
Byron’s game-winner came off a pass from Eric Schurhamer as he teed up a slap shot from the top of the left circle and saw his slapper squeeze through goalie Connor Hellebuyck.
“I was just trying to get the puck on net. There was some traffic in front,” said Byron.
“That lost the game for us,” said Hellebuyck. “It hit my pads and took a weird bounce off my glove and went backwards.”
Jon Swavely added an empty-net goal with 56 seconds remaining.
Maine’s Ouellette finished with 26 saves including 12 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety. Hellebuyck wound up with 34 of which 22 were Grade-A’s.
Power-play goals by Cam Brown and Ben Hutton supplied Maine with a 2-0 lead before Derek Arnold sliced the lead in half later in the first period.
Ryan McGrath’s power-play goal with 35 seconds left in the second period tied it up.
Brown opened the scoring at the 5:52 mark when he wheeled to the top of the right faceoff circle and beat Hellebuyck with a slap shot to the short side past his glove.
Hutton made it 2-0 4:37 later.
Steven Swavely hustled back to prevent Adam Chapie from breaking in alone down the right and the Black Bears transitioned quickly with Devin Shore carrying it down the right wing in a three-on-two rush.
He slid the puck across to Hutton in the middle of the slot and Hutton took a stride before wristing the puck over Hellebuyck’s glove.
The River Hawks answered off an effective forecheck.
There was a scramble in front and the puck skipped behind the net where Scott Wilson was able to corral it and throw it out front.
The puck bounced to the top of the crease and Arnold lifted it into the half-empty net.
Maine had some glittering chances to extend the lead in the second period but Hellebuyck came up with some important saves to keep the River Hawks within one.
McGrath scored the equalizer when he received the puck from Arnold in the circle to the left of Ouellette and scored off his own rebound. His first shot was blocked but the puck come right back to his stick and he wasted no time snapping the puck past Ouellette’s glove.
That gave the River Hawks momentum for the opening minutes of the third period.
Ouellette got a piece of his glove on a sizzling one-timer by Josh Holmstrom early in the period off a Zack Kamrass pass.
Moments later, Wilson set up Joseph Pendenza for a one-timer from the middle of the slot but Ouellette got his pad on it.
“I knew I’d have to be ready because they gained momentum [from the late second-period goal] and they’re one of the best teams we’ve played this year, I was able to slide across and make some saves,” said Ouellette, who made seven of his Grade-A saves in the third period.
Freshman defenseman Schurhamer had two assists for Maine, which will host former Maine assistant coach Gary Wright’s American International College (Mass.) Yellow Jackets on Friday and Saturday nights at 7. AIC is in Atlantic Hockey.