Hockey, hockey puck, ice hockey Credit: Stock image | Pixabay

University of Maine hockey coach Red Gendron and his players had mixed emotions about Saturday’s 2-2 Hockey East overtime tie with the University of Connecticut in Hartford.

The Black Bears rallied for two goals in the final seven minutes to earn a point and outshot the Huskies 23-11 in the third period and the five-minute overtime to finish with a 33-28 overall edge in shots on goal.

UMaine (2-3-1) snapped a three-game losing streak and is now 0-1-1 in Hockey East. UConn (3-2-1) is 1-1-1 in league play, including Friday night’s 5-2 victory over UMaine.

On Saturday, UMaine was outshot 17-10 over the first two periods and surrendered two second-period, power-play goals to Alexander Payusov.

“This showed great character on the team. The last two days haven’t been easy. We didn’t get it cooking until the third period (Saturday),” said Gendron. “Kudos to our kids for fighting back. They didn’t quit and they earned a point which was important.

However, he lamented the fact UMaine made its job harder by taking what he called stupid penalties.

“We battled back but we’ve got to play with desperation for the whole 60 minutes. We aren’t going to win many games if we don’t,” said UMaine junior Chase Pearson, who began the comeback with a power-play goal with seven minutes left.

Freshman right wing Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup scored the equalizer with 1:22 remaining while the Black Bears had the extra attacker on the ice after pulling goalie Jeremy Swayman.

Rob Michel set up Pearson’s third goal of the season with a crisp pass from the point across to him in the faceoff circle.

Schmidt-Svejstrup was set up by Michel and Patrick Shea.

Michel’s shot from the point was deflected by Shea and wound up bouncing over to Schmidt-Svejstrup.

“The rebound popped out to me and, to be honest, I whiffed on it,” said Schmidt-Svejstrup. “But I still got enough on it and it went through the goalie’s five hole.”

Schmidt-Svejstrup’s goal came just a few minutes after Swayman had kept the Black Bears within one by making a great save on Payusov.

Swayman, a sophomore, wound up with 26 saves.

Goalie Adam Huska made 31 saves for Coach Mike Cavanaugh’s Huskies.

Junior right wing Payusov opened the scoring at the 7:51 mark of the second period when he beat Swayman after being set up by Evan Wisocky and Jachym Kondelik.

He notched his seventh of the season with 20 seconds left in the middle period when he one-timed a Wysocky pass past Swayman.

Payusov’s seven goals in sixth games ranks him third in the nation in goals per game (1.17).

UMaine went 1-for-6 on the power play and UConn went 2-for-8.

UMaine had a two-man advantage for 1:29 in the first period but failed to capitalize.

“Special teams are important. (Friday) night, we hit two posts on the power play and we hit two posts on the power play again (Saturday), one with the 5-on-3 and another with a 5-on-4,” said Gendron.

The Black Bears went into Saturday’s game just 2-for-27 with the man advantage this season.

Gendron said he’s hoping Pearson’s goal will give his power-play units some confidence.

“We found a way to get back into the game and get a point in the third period and we can build off that,” said Schmidt-Svejstrup.

Defenseman Michel notched two assists for UMaine with Eduards Tralmaks and Shea picking up one each.

Wisocky had two assists for UConn.

On Friday night, Karl El-Mir tallied two goals, including an important shorthanded rally, and Paysuov, Carter Turnbull and Benjamin Freeman had the others to lead UConn past UMaine. Huska made 24 saves.

Tim Doherty and Emil Westerlund scored for UMaine and Swayman made 28 stops.

UMaine entertains Hockey East rival UMass Lowell next Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (7:30 p.m.).

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