University of Maine players follow the action from the bench during the Hockey East playoff game against the University of New Hampshire at Alfond Arena in Orono on March 10, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

It wasn’t a win but the University of Maine’s Black Bear hockey team took a step in the right direction on Saturday night.

Despite carrying the play against Sacred Heart en route to a 37-19 edge in shots on goal, the Black Bears found themselves trailing 3-1 with 10 minutes left in the game.

But goals by Adrien Bisson and Keenan Suthers enabled the Black Bears to earn a 3-3 overtime tie in front of 3,136 at the Alfond Arena.

UMaine is now 0-3-1 while Sacred Heart (Connecticut) is 2-3-1.

Neither team scored in the 5-minute three-on-three overtime period.

Sacred Heart, from Atlantic Hockey, had won Friday night’s game 1-0.

The 6-foot-8 Suthers, a transfer from St. Lawrence, tied it with just 3:45 remaining when he drove to the net and used his long reach to flip a backhander over goalie Justin Robbins after Adam Dawe had fought his way to the net front and had the puck deflect off his stick and eventually land on Suthers’ stick.

Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup also assisted on the goal.

“Good things happen when you go to the net. Adam Dawe made a great play to get it through to the net,” Suthers said. “It was a fortunate bounce. It looked like it hit the defender’s stick and then went off the goalie’s pad and laid right in the blue paint.”

Suthers couldn’t play last season due to the old NCAA transfer rule so the goal was his first since he scored for St. Lawrence in a 5-2 loss to Dartmouth on Feb. 21, 2020.

“It felt great. It had been a while since I scored and I forgot what the feeling was like. And I liked that it was a big goal,” Suthers said.

Defenseman Bisson began the comeback with 9:32 remaining on a wrister from the outer half of the left faceoff circle off a Cam Spicer pass that beat Robbins to the short side.

“It came off [Bisson’s stick] weird. I didn’t pick it up. But I’ve got to have that one, though,” said Robbins in shouldering blame for the goal.

Austin Magera staked Sacred Heart to a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period.

Quinnipiac University transfer Matthew Fawcett, making his UMaine debut, tied it in the second period. Dakota Raabe answered 7:14 later and Nick Boyagian extended the lead 8:53 into the third period before Bisson scored 1:35 later.

Robbins was the much busier of the two goalies and finished with 34 saves to Thiessen’s 16.

UMaine attempted 69 shots compared with Sacred Heart’s 26.

“We did a great job fighting back, being resilient and getting the [tie],” Suthers said.

“It says a lot about our team to come back like that,” added Fawcett. “Overall, I thought we had a really good game. It was tough we didn’t come out with the win but we’re moving forward.”

UMaine first-year head coach Ben Barr said his team “played as hard as it has all year and the only way to keep getting better is to work even harder. They kept working and Friday night they didn’t.”

Magera opened the scoring 9:54 into the first period off a two-on-one.

Magera carried the puck down the left wing and beat Thiessen with a wrist shot over the goalie’s glove from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.

Fawcett tied it up 7:40 into the second period.

Brad Morrissey passed the puck to Jakub Sirota along the right wing boards and Sirota stickhandled past a Pioneer before making a backhand pass to the open Fawcett on the inner half of the right faceoff circle.

Fawcett took a stride and fired a 20-footer past Robbins’ short side.

“It was an awesome play by Sirota and by Morrissey as well,” Fawcett said.

The Black Bears had a golden opportunity to take their first lead of the series when they had a two-man advantage for 1:44 but they failed to capitalize as Robbins came up with some good stops.

Two minutes later, Raabe swept a rebound into the open net after defenseman Patrick Dawson purposely shot the puck off the boards behind the UMaine goal and the puck came out into the path of Kevin Lombardi, whose slapshot was kicked out by Thiessen only to land on Raabe’s stick.

Boyagian made it 3-1 when he stickhandled out of the corner into the middle of the slot and snapped a 25-foot shot over Thiessen’s glove.

“Maine deserved a better fate tonight,” said Sacred Heart coach C.J. Marottolo. “They really dictated the play. We were fortunate to be up 3-1.”

“[Fawcett] gave us life. I was really happy with him. And Keenan was good all weekend,” Barr said.

UMaine will open its Hockey East schedule at Northeastern next Friday and Saturday night while Sacred Heart will play its home and league openers against Niagara.