The University of Maine men’s hockey team earned some valuable momentum to take into the Hockey East playoffs by virtue of Friday’s dramatic come-from-behind shootout victory over the sixth-ranked University of Massachusetts at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The game is recorded as a tie for NCAA purposes, but the Black Bears (3-10-2) earned two league points in the league standings while the Minutemen (13-5-4) gained one.
Neither team scored in overtime but UMaine won the shootout 2-1 on goals by freshmen Lynden Breen and Donovan Houle and three saves by freshman goalie Victor Ostma.
Zac Jones scored in the shootout for UMass, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
UMaine had lost its last three games at the Mullins Center by an aggregate score of 15-2.
The Black Bears learned on Sunday that for the first time this season, they will be able to host a game with it being a first-round Hockey East playoff game against New Hampshire. UMaine’s hockey teams hadn’t been able to host due to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“This was one of our top performances of the season,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “We came out strong but had a period of time where we gave up three goals pretty rapidly.
“But we settled down towards the end of the first period, played solidly in the second period and, as we’ve been all year long, the resilience and perseverance of the Maine Black Bears has been truly remarkable and we found a way to come back and tie it.”
With UMaine trailing 3-1, sophomore Adrien Bisson began the comeback by scoring his first goal of the season with the Black Bears on the power play.
John Mulera made a diagonal pass to Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi at the left point and his shot was saved by Filip Lindberg (16 saves). The rebound spilled to the far post and Bisson took two whacks at it to steer it home with 8:06 remaining.
Eduards Tralmaks, who has missed the last four games and hasn’t played since Jan. 23, tied it with 4:14 to play. He corralled the puck in the corner, wheeled from right to left in the high slot and with a defender right on him fired a snap shot past Lindberg.
“Eddie just wired it. He has a pretty hard shot,” Gendron said. “For him to come back and play as well as he did is pretty amazing.”
Gendron also praised UMaine goalie Victor Ostman who made 30 saves after giving up a soft first goal.
The Black Bears got off to a bright start as senior left wing Emil Westerlund snapped a 10-game goalless drought with his fourth goal of the season. He was set up nicely by Lynden Breen, taking the puck wide on a defenseman and snapping a shot past Lindberg’s glove from the left faceoff dot.
St. Lawrence University transfer Carson Gicewicz tied it for the Minutemen with his 13th goal of the season just 2:20 later. The redshirt senior, tied for the league lead in goals, scored with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle off a Jake Gaudet rush and pass.
Junior defensemen Ty Farmer and Marc Del Gaizo gave UMass a 3-1 lead, scoring goals 3:22 apart, still in the first period.
Farmer scored off a scramble following a point-blank back-hander by Philip Lagunov. Del Gaizo beat Ostman with a wrist shot from the middle of the slot off a Gicewicz feed.