ORONO — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team rallied Friday night but will still be searching for its first home win of the season when it concludes its two-game series with Merrimack College Saturday night.
Senior center Kyle Beattie scored a power-play goal with with 10:01 left in regulation to give Maine a 1-1 overtime tie.
Maine’s school-record winless streak at Alfond Arena has now stretched to 10 games (0-7-3). The Black Bears have scored only 12 goals in their 10 home games.
Sophomore defenseman Dan Kolomatis scored a power-play goal for Merrimack in the second period.
Maine is now 5-13-4 overall, 1-8-4 in Hockey East. Merrimack is 8-9-5 and 6-5-2.
Merrimack split four games at Alfond Arena last season, its first wins at Alfond Arena since 1997.
“We’re happy with a point but we’re not satisfied,” said Beattie. “We want to get that first home win.”
“I thought we were tentative in the first period but we played better in the second and third periods and the overtime,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We played with a lot more poise and grit.”
Beattie tied it 9:59 into the third period when he busted down the right wing and had his centering pass from just beyond the extended goal line deflect past Marotta with Mark Anthoine and Adam Shemansky converging on the net on the near post.
Marotta credited Beattie with making a good play by shooting from that angle.
But Beattie said that it was a shot.
“I was trying to hit Joey [Diamond] on the far side. He was pretty open,” said Beattie.
“It hit the shaft of my stick and ping-ponged around [before going in],” said Marotta. “It was around 11 inches off the ice.”
That ended Marotta’s shutout streak at the expense of the Black Bears at 109 minutes, 59 seconds. The junior blanked Maine 6-0 last Saturday night.
Both teams had power-play chances in overtime but they couldn’t convert.
Merrimack had a full two-minute power play courtesy of a Joey Diamond hitting-from-behind penalty and Maine’s spanned the final 45 seconds of the game as the result of a Kolomatis tripping call.
Beattie had a glorious opportunity in the OT when he skated onto a loose puck in the high slot and one-timed a low shot labeled for the corner to Marotta’s right.
But Marotta flashed out his right pad and kicked it out.
“I tried to go low blocker but he made a nice save,” said Beattie.
“I didn’t see the shot off his stick but I picked it up when it was 10 feet out,” said Marotta who finished with 31 saves including 20 of the Grade-A (high-percentage) variety.
Maine junior goalie Martin Ouellette ended up with 25 saves of which 12 were Grade-A’s.
Both goalies turned in impressive performances.
Kolomatis scored at the 3:16 mark of the second period just as Jake Rutt’s interference penalty was ending. Kolomatis pushed the puck ahead to Bates, but Bates was confronted by a Maine defenseman and the puck hit a skate and sat in the right circle. Kolomatis skated to the puck and sailed a wrist shot over Ouellette’s glove and into the short side corner.
“I saw a little hole on the short side and we didn’t have anyone going to the net so I took the shot,” said Kolomatis.
“It was a good shot but I could have made the save,” said Ouellette.
Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said the game was like “the first two rounds of a heavyweight title fight [with the fighters cautiously feeling each other out]. But it never turned in to much. There wasn’t a lot going on out there.”
But he will gladly take a road point.
“There was a time Merrimack would have died to get a point at Alfond Arena. A point is a point,” he said.
Both teams had a handful of good scoring chances in an evenly-played first period but nobody was able to convert.
Merrimack’s Shawn Bates intercepted an errant pass early in the period but missed the net off a partial break-in.
Moments later, Connor Leen sent Diamond in on Marotta down the right side but Marotta stopped the challenging 12-footer.
Ouellette made two sharp saves off Brian Christie’s slapper from the top of the left circle and a same-shift shot seconds later by Kolomatis from the right circle.
Merrimack had a two-on-one but Kyle Singleton’s pass to Tom McCarthy was a tad off the mark. limiting McCarthy to a weak backhander that Ouellette smothered comfortably.
The Warriors carried the play over the first half of the second period but Maine played with a greater sense of urgency over the second half of the period and almost tied it only to have Shemansky’s power-play wrister from the right circle ring off the near post.
Both goalies made four Grade-A saves in the evenly-played third period but Marotta was the busier in the overtime as he was forced to make four Grade-A saves while Ouellette only had to make one as his mates did a nice job on the penalty kill.
“The guys did a great job blocking shots and keep the shots to the outside,” said Ouellette.