ORONO, Maine — Former University of New Hampshire Hobey Baker Award finalist and All-American Tyler Kelleher was a University of Maine nemesis, capping his outstanding career with six goals and four assists in three victories over the Black Bears a year ago.
Brother Charlie appears to be continuing the family tradition as the freshman right wing assisted on the first two goals and scored the tying goal with 9:58 remaining in the third period to help the Wildcats earn a 3-3 overtime tie with the Black Bears at a sold-out Alfond Arena on Saturday night.
UMaine was celebrating the first 40 years of the hockey program and several former players and coaches were introduced to the appreciative crowd.
It was the second straight night in which the Wildcats scored a third-period goal to gain a tie as the two teams skated to a 2-2 draw Friday night.
Senior Danny Tirone made 33 saves as he and his teammates extended their unbeaten streak over the archrival Black Bears to nine games (6-0-3).
But New Hampshire had its current winless streak expanded to nine games (0-6-3) dating back to a Dec. 6 victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The University of New Hampshire is now 9-11-4 overall, 4-7-3 in Hockey East while UMaine is 12-9-4 and 6-6-3, respectively.
UMaine, which received 27 stops from freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman, is 8-2-4 over its last 14 games.
The Black Bears attempted 83 shots to New Hampshire’s 59, including 33 Grade-A (high-percentage) attempts to New Hampshire’s 20.
“This was one of my brother’s favorite rinks to play in,” Kelleher said. “He told me this week to enjoy it. It’s a good time.”
Kelleher’s goal came just 1:15 after UMaine sophomore center and co-captain Chase Pearson provided the Black Bears with their first lead of the game.
New Hampshire’s Ara Nazarian and UMaine’s Ryan Smith swapped first-period goals before Richard Boyd supplied UNH with its second one-goal in the second period and Canon Pieper answered 6:14 later. The goals by Boyd and Pieper came on the power play.
Pearson had snapped the deadlock at the 8:47 mark after Eduards Tralmaks muscled his way with the puck to the front of the UNH net. The puck eventually wound up on the stick of Rob Michel in the left corner, and he quickly threw the puck to the uncovered Pearson in the low slot.
“I slid it under [Tirone’s] pad,” Pearson said.
But New Hampshire answered swiftly when Kelleher took a pass from Cameron Marks and broke into the UMaine zone down the right side before taking a wrister from the top of the right circle that deflected off UMaine defenseman Patrick Holway and tumbled slowly over the glove of Swayman.
“[Marks] made a nice, quick up-pass to me, and I just trying to get a shot on net,” Kelleher said. “Fortunately, I got a lucky bounce and it went in.”
“It was just one of those fluke things,” UMaine junior defenseman and alternate captain Michel said. “That’s hockey. Sometimes, you don’t get the bounces. You’ve got to respond when something like that happens.”
UMaine carried the play in the third period and the five-minute overtime, outshooting New Hampshire 17-10, but Tirone came up with some important saves to salvage the tie.
‘We were hungry around the net, but nothing was going in for us,” Pearson said. “It was a point lost. We feel like we’re the better team but we’ve got to learn to put a full 60 minutes together. We had some lapses.”
Nazarian opened the scoring 3:53 into the game by taking a backhand pass from Kelleher on a three-on-two, kicking the puck it from his skate to his stick and sliding a low 20-foot wrister past Swayman into the short side corner.
Smith tied it when he pounced on the rebound of Brady Keeper’s point shot and flipped a five-footer past Tirone.
Boyd made it 2-1 when his seemingly harmless wrist shot from the left point found its way past some UMaine bodies and into the net behind the screened Swayman.
But Pieper knotted things up by jamming a Nolan Vesey rebound behind Tirone from the edge of the crease.
“We played a very good game. We played better than Friday night and probably deserved a better outcome,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said. “But it is what it is. It was a great series. Both teams battled like crazy.”
“It was frustrating. It isn’t acceptable,” senior left wing Vesey said.”Every time we play them, [Tirone] makes some absurd saves.”
“It was a great weekend of college hockey, to be quite honest,” said New Hampshire coach Dick Umile, who is retiring after 28 seasons this year. “It went back and forth. I liked the way we played and competed this weekend. It was a great atmosphere to play in and it was good for our confidence. We were disappointed not to get a win but we’ll take our two points [one from each game] and go forward.”
UMaine visits the University of Massachusetts for a pair next weekend.
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