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Last-minute rallies were on the docket at the University of Maine in Orono on Saturday.
After the UMaine football team scored two touchdowns in the final 3:16 to overcome the University of Rhode Island 34-30 on Saturday afternoon, the Black Bear hockey team received a game-tying power-play goal off the stick of Tim Doherty with 51 seconds left in regulation and the overtime winner from Patrick Shea as UMaine edge arch-rival New Hampshire 2-1 at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears improved to 7-3-2 overall and 4-2-2 in Hockey East while sweeping the Wildcats. UMaine won 3-1 on Friday night.
UNH fell to 5-4-1 and 3-3, respectively.
“This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” senior center Doherty said. “It’s the best weekend of the year: [playing] UNH. What a way to do it: sweep at home. You couldn’t write it up any better than this.”
UMaine pulled goalie Jeremy Swayman in favor of an extra attacker while on the power play late in regulation and Doherty one-timed a cross-ice pass from Adam Dawe past goalie Mike Robinson into the upper short-side corner from the inner half of the right faceoff circle.
“The puck was out deep and squirted out so I found my way to the one-timer side and [Dawe] made a great pass. All I had to do is shoot it,” said Doherty, whose goal was his sixth of the season.
Shea, also a senior center, won it with 2:48 to play in overtime after Ryan Smith chased down a puck in the left corner and sent a pass across the low slot where the on-rushing Shea chipped it past Robinson.
“We had just jumped on the ice and [Mitch Fossier] tipped it in,” Shea said. “I saw [Smith] buzzing on the forecheck like he always does. Their defenseman was hanging back and I was hoping [Smith] would see me and throw it over.
“Sure enough, he saw me and gunned it over. It just missed their defenseman’s stick and I made sure I got [my shot] upstairs,” said Shea, who had gone 20 games without a goal dating back to last season and had never scored a goal in 12 previous games with UNH.
Angus Crookshank’s power-play goal staked UNH to a 1-0 lead in the second period.
Swayman finished with 32 saves, including a breakaway stop off Joe Sacco early in the third period to keep UMaine within one.
“[Swayman] has been unbelievable for us,” Shea said.
Robinson wound up with 34 stops in an equally stellar performance.
Crookshank scored 9:11 into the middle period, ending UNH’s 0-for-6 showing with the man advantage on the weekend.
Patrick Grasso slid a cross-ice pass to Kalle Eriksson at the left point and his shot was deflected by Crookshank and nestled in the net behind Swayman for his fifth of the season.
The UNH goal actually energized the Black Bears, who began carrying the play to try to get the equalizer.
But the Wildcats did a nice job using their speed to get numbers on the defensive side of the puck and Robinson was sharp, not only making the initial save but controlling his rebounds efficiently.
UMaine also missed the net on 22 of its shot attempts.
“It was definitely a frustrating couple of periods,” Shea said. “I felt we outplayed them the whole night but we just couldn’t score [until late]. Their goalie played well, for sure. But they finally cracked at the end.”
“We were gritty all night long. We played with great energy and passion throughout the whole game,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “There were ebbs and flows in the game. Full marks to UNH. They played their tails off.”
UNH coach Mike Souza thought his team turned in a strong showing while playing without leading scorer Jackson Pierson (2 goals, 11 assists), who suffered an upper body injury in Friday night’s loss.
“I feel bad for our kids. They showed great resilience. It was a good, hard-fought game,” Souza said. “There was real good goaltending both ways.
“They made one more play than us. That’s what it came down to,” Souza added.
“We played hard,” said UNH defenseman and captain Anthony Wyse, whose contact-to-the-head roughing penalty with 2:37 left set the stage for Doherty’s tying goal.
“I definitely wasn’t trying to hit him in the head. I was trying to hit him in the body. My hands must of rose up. Regardless, I can’t take a penalty with that much time in the game left,” Wyse said.
UMaine will begin a stretch of seven straight road games with a two-game set at Northeastern University next Friday and Saturday night, while UNH will entertain Michigan for a pair of contests.