The University of Maine built a 2-0 lead, but the University of New Hampshire rallied for a 2-2 Hockey East tie in front of a season-high 4,788 fans at Alfond Arena Friday night.
Patrick Holway staked UMaine to a 1-0 lead early in the first period, and that’s the way it stayed until Danny Perez extended the lead with 2:27 left in the middle period.
But the Wildcats received a huge boost when Jason Salvaggio scored with only 3.3 seconds left in the second period and Eric MacAdams tied it just 1:08 into the third period by redirecting a Salvaggio feed past UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman on a 2-on-1.
New Hampshire dominated the overtime but freshman Jeremy Swayman made seven saves to preserve the tie including a couple of Grade-A (high-percentage) opportunities by MacAdams.
The two teams play again Saturday night at 7:30 as UMaine continues to celebrate 40 years of the hockey program.
UNH outshot Maine 7-1 in the overtime and received an important clearance by freshman right wing Charlie Kelleher after a Mitch Fossier shot deflected off goalie Danny Tirone and sat in the crease.
Swayman finished with 31 saves while senior Tirone wound up with 33.
UMaine is 12-9-3 overall and 6-6-2 in Hockey East while UNH is 9-11-3 and 4-7-2, respectively.
UNH is 0-6-2 in its last eight games, but Tirone and the Wildcats are 6-0-2 in their last eight meetings against UMaine.
“It was a heck of a battle,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said. “Both teams played hard. Each had spurts (when they carried the play).
“We didn’t play poorly. We just didn’t play well enough to get the win,” Gendron added. “Full marks to UNH. I know they’ve hit a rough patch but they’re a good hockey team.”
UNH coach Dick Umile, who is in his 28th and final year behind the UNH bench, said he thought the game was “all that I thought it was going to be.
“I liked the way we stayed with it, chipped away and bounced back,” Umile said. “The goal at the end of the second period was huge. It came off a good faceoff win (by Marcus Vela). We had some chances in the overtime but Swayman came up with some key saves.”
“Jeremy has been lights out all year for us. He made some huge saves in the overtime,” said Fossier, who considered it a “point lost, for sure” rather than a point gained.
Holway scored his sixth goal of the season at the 3:25 mark when he pounced on an errant UNH pass 10 feet inside the blue line, took a couple of strides and sailed a wrist shot past Tirone’s glove into the short-side corner.
Tirone appeared to be screened as a UHN defenseman attempted to get his stick on Holway’s shot.
That would be UMaine’s only shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the period as the Wildcats had a decided edge in play.
UNH’s Shane Eiserman generated a breakaway by poking the puck free in the neutral zone and outracing a UMaine defenseman to the loose puck.
He pulled the puck to his backhand but Swayman moved across and smothered the shot.
Swayman also made a nice save on Vela’s slapper from the middle of the slot as UNH generated nine of the first 10 shots of the period.
But the Black Bears began gaining a foothold in the game with eight minutes remaining and had the final seven shots of the period only to have Tirone come up with some solid stops.
The Black Bears continued to have the lion’s share of the possession and most of the scoring chances in the second period only to have Tirone come up with a number of nice saves including a terrific point-blank stop with his right pad off Eduards Tralmaks’ rebound attempt.
Perez made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season when he drove to the net and got inside position on a UNH defenseman which enabled him to swat a Cedric Lacroix rebound past Tirone.
Lacroix had taken a pass from Patrick Shea and cut from right to left across the slot before firing a wrister that bounced off Tirone to Perez.
But Salvaggio, a 23-goal scorer a year ago, picked up his seventh when he was able to get his stick on a Max Gildon point shot and deflect it past Swayman. Vela won a faceoff to the right of Swayman and got the puck to Gildon at the right point.
“We’ve got to do a better job blocking out,” Gendron said.
Salvaggio went from goal scorer to provider early in the third period as he broke down the left wing in a 2-on-1 with MacAdams and threaded a pass over to MacAdams, who cleverly angled his stick and directed it past Swayman for his sixth of the season.
UNH went 0-for-5 on the power play while UMaine went 0-for-4.
“Our penalty killing was great but I didn’t like our grittiness on the power play when it comes to winning loose pucks. And we lacked poise. We forced some passes when we weren’t even under pressure,” Gendron said.
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