University of Maine men’s hockey coach Red Gendron felt his team played one of its best games of the season Saturday night against No. 7 UMass Lowell.
Unfortunately for Gendron and his slumping Black Bears, the result was the same.
UMass Lowell erased a pair of one-goal deficits in the third period and received an overtime game-winner from freshman right wing Michael Louria with 1:03 remaining to deal the Black Bears their eighth straight loss, 3-2, at the Tsongas Arena In Lowell, Massachusetts, Saturday night.
It is the longest losing streak since the 1985-86 season.
Maine fell to 3-12-1 overall, 2-6 in Hockey East.
T he Black Bears have now lost nine straight road games and are winless in their last 11 at opposing rinks (0-10-1). Maine is 1-18-3 on the road since the start of last season.
UMass Lowell improved to 10-3-3 and 7-0-2, respectively.
“The truth is we played a really good game. We pushed back, we stuck together and the guys competed like dogs,” said Gendron. “We’re never satisfied with an outcome unless it’s a win. But if we keep playing like this, we’ll come out of it. We could have won it but we didn’t so it’s not good enough. We need to play better and we will.”
It was the third time this season Maine took a lead into the third period only to wind up losing.
Blaine Byron’s late second-period goal, which snapped the Bears’ 0-for-24 power play drought, gave Maine a 1-0 lead.
A.J. White tied it 7:44 into the third period but freshman Nolan Vesey’s first career goal regained the lead for Maine with 8:07 remaining.
Tyler Mueller answered just 32 seconds later.
Maine sophomore right wing Blaine Byron opened the scoring when Ben Hutton ’s wrister from the point squeaked through the pads of Kevin Boyle and sat behind the goalie, enabling Byron to tap it over the goal line for his fifth goal of the season. Maine had been held scoreless on the power play in the previous six games.
Maine’s Brian Morgan had an opportunity to expand the lead when he blocked a shot at the point and broke in alone on the backhand side. But Boyle flashed out his left pad and made the save as Morgan couldn’t elevate it and didn’t get much on the shot.
White drew the River Hawks even when Zack Kamrass’ shot from the point was blocked by Maine’s Stu Higgins but rolled right to him in the high slot. White’s one-timer beat Maine goalie Sean Romeo past his left skate.
Vesey teamed up with fellow freshman Liam Pecararo on a precisely-executed two-on-one to make it 2-1.
Pecararo passed it over to Vesey, who made a nifty toe-drag which enabled him to flip the puck into the wide open net because Boyle had slid across to the post.
“It was an unbelievable pass from Liam,” said Vesey who added that he was relieved to finally score his first goal.
But the River Hawks capitalized on the next shift as White passed to Evan Campbell who had escaped down the right wing and fired a shot from the right circle.
Romeo made the save but Mueller was driving hard to the net with Maine’s Dan Renouf trying to tie him up and the puck popped in the air and deflected in off Mueller’s chest for his second of the season.
“[Mueller] made a good play going to the net hard. Some nights that wouldn’t have gone in. Tonight it did,” said Gendron.
“There have been some games when the bounces haven’t gone our way but we’re going to stay positive. We’re confident we’re going to get out of this,” said Vesey. “This was definitely one of our better games.”
Louria’s game-winner came off an extended forecheck after Maine defenseman Mark Hamilton had lost his stick.
Campbell and C.J. Smith cycled the puck and the pass came across to Louria, who was standing at the side of the net to the right of Romeo.
Louria was able to make a quick move to evade Cam Brown and Eric Schurhamer and then flipped it over Romeo’s left pad and past his glove from point-blank range. He now has four goals, including three game-winners.