ORONO, Maine — After being clearly outplayed for two periods by the Merrimack College Warriors, the University of Maine men’s hockey team appeared as though it was going to salvage at least a point from Saturday night’s Hockey East game thanks to a strong third period and overtime.
But sophomore right wing Sami Tavernier’s goal with 1:24 left in overtime enabled the Warriors to snap their five-game losing streak as well as UMaine’s eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2), 3-2.
The damaging loss also snapped UMaine’s seven-game unbeaten streak at home (4-0-3), where the Black Bears are now just 6-5-3.
UMaine squandered an opportunity to leapfrog Boston University into fourth place in Hockey East as the loss kept the Black Bears in fifth place.
Merrimack improved to 8-16-4 overall, 5-12-2 in Hockey East, while UMaine fell to 15-10-4 and 9-7-3, respectively. It was Merrimack’s third straight overtime game. The Warriors had lost the previous two.
It was also the fourth consecutive overtime game between Merrimack and UMaine, and the Warriors now hold a 2-1-1 edge.
Goals by Tyler Drevitch, son of former UMaine defenseman Scott Drevitch, and Brett Seney supplied the Warriors with a pair of one-goal leads but Tim Doherty tied it 1-1 in the first period and Mitch Fossier’s third-period power-play goal with 7:16 remaining forced the overtime.
Seney’s goal was shorthanded, while both of UMaine’s goals came on the power play.
Merrimack had a 27-17 in shots on goal edge through two periods and a 43-28 advantage in attempted shots.
But UMaine turned the tables on Merrimack in the third period and overtime, outshooting the Warriors Merrimack 21-10 and out-attempting them 39-14.
Tavernier’s goal was Merrimack’s first attempted shot in the overtime after UMaine had generated six, two of which went on target.
A UMaine dump-in landed on the stick of Merrimack senior defenseman and captain Jered Kolquist ,and he fired a long pass to the streaking Tavernier busting down the right wing.
Tavernier carried the puck down the right wing and snapped a 20-foot wrist shot from the inner half of the right faceoff circle into the far corner past the blocker of UMaine freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman, who was beaten from roughly the same spot on Seney’s goal.
“I saw Kolquist with the puck, and I was waiting at the blue line,” Tavernier said. “I was pretty sure he was going to pass it to me. Then I kind of blacked out and shot it. I’m used to shooting toward the left side.”
Swayman said it was similar to Seney’s goal, and he felt he should have stopped both of them.
“I want both of them back,” Swayman said. “I’m going to have to make an adjustment to stop those kinds of goals.”
“We made a mistake down low trying to win the game and that’s what led to mister Tavernier getting behind us,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “The best part of his game is how well he shoots the puck. He has a great shot. He can wire it and that’s exactly what he did.”
Drevitch opened the scoring 5:10 into the game when he deflected Aaron Titcomb’s point shot past Swayman.
Doherty equalized with a one-timer into a half-empty net off a Nolan Vesey pass after Vesey had extended his stick to block a clear-out attempt and gained possession of the puck.
Seney made it 2-1 2:22 into the second period with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot but Fossier tied it up by redirecting Patrick Holway’s diagonal pass past Drew Vogler from the middle of the slot.
“We didn’t play with any urgency for two periods and, as a result, we found ourselves in a difficult spot,” Gendron said. “The good news is we played our tails off in the third period and even into the overtime. But it needs to be a lesson to all of us that we need to play hard for the full 60 minutes.”
Vogler made 36 saves in an outstanding performance and Swayman wound up with 33.
“[Vogler] made some real good saves and some timely saves, too,” Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. “It’s a funny game. I thought we were the better team last night and we lost [4-3 in overtime]. Tonight, we played really well for two periods but then they turned up the heat a little bit and we didn’t respond the way I would have liked.
“But we had a couple of guys make a play, Sami wired one and we leave here with a split. Any time you can come up to Alfond and win a game, it’s a good weekend,” he added.
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