Hockey can be a cruel sport.
The University of Maine’s struggling Black Bears outshot the University of Vermont at Alfond Arena on Saturday, but had to settle for a 1-1 tie and a shootout loss as sophomore goalie Gabe Carriere made 50 saves and Philip Lagunov earned the extra point for Vermont by being the only goal scorer in the three-player shootout after the five-minute overtime.
Vermont is now 3-9-2 overall and 2-4-2 in Hockey East while UMaine is 1-11-3 and 1-8-2.
Vermont earns two Hockey East points and UMaine gets one.
Dovar Tinling gave the Catamounts a 1-0 lead at the 9:17 mark of the first period. UMaine sophomore right wing Donavan Houle later snapped the Black Bears’ multi-game scoreless string of 180 minutes and 28 seconds with 3:39 remaining in the second period.
UMaine had a five-minute power play with 4:27 left in regulation time and it carried over into overtime courtesy of a Luca Munzenberger direct contact to the head penalty. But UMaine failed to convert and has now gone six games without a power play goal.
Carriere made a few saves on the power play but his penalty killers did a nice job keeping UMaine on the perimeter.
“Our power play has definitely been a bit of a struggle. Now the guys are overthinking it,” UMaine head coach Ben Barr said.
“Our penalty-killing has been really good lately,” said UVM coach Todd Woodcroft.
University of Maine sophomore center Lynden Breen said it was a frustrating night, playing as well as they did while missing three forwards out with concussions — Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, Matthew Fawcett and Grant Hebert.
“This is the first time since I’ve been here that we have dominated a team like we did tonight. But to come out empty-handed is tough,” said Breen, who had a game-high nine shots on goal.
Barr said the “guys played hard all weekend. We scored one goal. That’s how it is for us. We got to the net better today. We put more pucks to the net.”
Woodcroft said UMaine outplayed his University of Vermont team and that the Catamounts didn’t earn a victory.
“They were very disciplined,” Woodcroft said of UMaine. “They played with intensity and we didn’t match it. If Carriere didn’t have a career night and a career weekend, the score would have been different.”
It was a Carriere blunder that enabled UMaine to tie the game.
He had the puck on his stick and faked a forehand pass to a teammate. He then tried to shovel a backhand pass to another teammate but put it right on the stick of UMaine’s Houle, who simply fired it into the open net for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Vermont’s Tinling opened the scoring for the game after Isak Walther hit him with a perfect pass while he was in full stride busting through the neutral zone.
He broke down the right wing and used a teammate as a decoy before snapping a 25-foot wrist shot past UMaine goalie Matt Thiessen’s blocker for his first goal of the season.
Thiessen finished with 16 stops.
Carriere stopped all three UMaine attempts in the shootout while Thiessen stopped one but was beaten by Lagunov, who patiently waited for the goalie to make the first move and then roofed a wrister.
UMaine will host Union College from the Eastern College Athletic Conference next Friday at 7:30 and Saturday at 5.