The University of Maine Black Bears finally erupted for some goals, but it wasn’t enough as a strange goal by UMass’ Ray Pigozzi with 2:46 left in overtime kept them winless as UMass triumphed 5-4 in the inaugural Capital City Classic Friday night at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey.
UMass improved to 4-0-1 and will play Friday night’s winner of the Yale-Princeton game in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship.
UMaine is 0-3-3 and will try to snap a three-game losing streak against the Yale-Princeton loser at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
UMaine, which had been shut out in its previous two games and had scored just five goals in five games, rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to force overtime.
Third-period goals 2:57 apart by freshman Daniel Perez and sophomore Cedric Lacroix erased a 4-2 deficit. Lacroix banked one in off freshman goalie Nic Renyard from close range with 10:25 left, and both teams had glorious chances to win it in regulation, but Renyard and UMaine freshman Rob McGovern came up with some clutch saves.
In overtime, Pigozzi raced after a loose puck in the UMaine end and, while falling to the ice, he flipped the puck in front and it deflected off a Black Bear player into the net.
“It hit a skate and went in. It was a tough bounce,” said UMaine junior alternate captain Cam Brown, who had a pair of assists.
Will Merchant staked UMaine to its only lead with the lone goal of the first period, but UMass scored three times in a span of 5:46 in the second period to take a 3-1 lead as Dennis Kravchenko sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Keith Burchett.
Merchant scored his second goal of the game to pull UMaine within one later in the second period, but Shane Walsh answered 5:24 into the third period to make it 4-2.
“We battled hard and made some significant improvements in the offensive part of our game, not just in the goals we scored but also in the amount of offense we generated,” said UMaine coach Red Gendron. “I was proud of the way we battled back from a pair of two-goal deficits. We need to find ways to finish games.”
He said the goals they gave up didn’t result from defensive breakdowns, it was more of a puck management problem.
“We played pretty well,” said Brown. “We got the puck to the net a lot more. We had a lot of chances.
“It was a tough one. We’ve just got to figure it out,” he added.
Kravchenko has five goals in five career games against UMaine. Burchett had an assist to go with his goal, and Renyard finished with 33 saves.
Perez had an assist to go with his goal, and junior defenseman Dan Renouf had two assists.
McGovern wound up with 32 stops.