University of Maine men's hockey team right winger Donavan Houle in a November 2021 hockey game. (Courtesy UMaine athletics)

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score four unanswered goals for a 4-2 victory over the University of Alaska-Fairbanks at Alfond Arena on Saturday night.

Donavan Houle’s goal with just 2:37 left in the third period supplied the Black Bears with their first lead of the weekend series and Lynden Breen added an empty-netter with 39 seconds remaining for his second goal of the game. 

UMaine salvaged a weekend series split after Alaska won Friday night’s game 6-2.

Houle pounced on the rebound of a Breen shot in the middle of the slot and fired the puck through the pads of Gustavs Grigals for his team-high sixth goal of the season.

“The puck just bounced out front and I tapped it in the net,” Houle said. “I was in a good place at the right moment.”

UMaine outshot Alaska 24-4 in the third period in outscoring the Nanooks 3-0.

“Coach (Ben) Barr told us in the third period that we had them on the ropes and the guys took that to heart and went out and did the job,” said sophomore goalie Connor Androlewicz, who made 27 saves in a stellar performance in his first career start after replacing Matt Thiessen in the second period of Friday night’s loss and allowing just one goal the rest of the way.

“He made the saves he needed to and came up with some big saves,” said Barr. “He played with a lot of poise and moved the puck well.”

Grigals was terrific for the Nanooks as he ended up with 40 saves including 21 while under siege in the third period.

UMaine is now 3-12-4 while Alaska fell to 5-14-1. 

Jakob Breault’s power play goal 16 seconds into the second period staked the Nanooks to a 1-0 lead and Didrik Henbrant expanded the lead 8:06 later. But UMaine’s Ben Poisson scored just 22 seconds afterward and Breen tied it 3:10 into the third period on a five-on-three power play.

Breault opened the scoring with his third goal of the season.

Brady Risk took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that was saved by Androlewicz. Androlewicz also saved Chase Dubois’ point-blank rebound but Breault had cruised to the top of the crease and flipped the third shot home.

Henbrant scored his fifth of the year off a pass from Filip Fornaa Svensson.

Svensson had the puck behind his net and made eye contact with Henbrant, who sprinted out of the zone.

Svensson flipped the puck high in the air and Henbrant skated onto it, got inside position on Sam Duerr and wristed a shot through Androlewicz’s legs.

Poisson pulled UMaine within one by one-timing a Breen pass past Grigals’ glove.

Breen tied it after a rare faceoff infraction sent Brady Risk to the penalty box with Jordan Muzzillo already in the box.

Houle made a cross-crease pass to Breen, who jammed it inside the post to knot things up.

The line of Breen between Poisson and Houle scored all four goals with Breen notching two goals and two assists, and Houle and Poisson contributing a goal and two assists each.

“Our line struggled big time last night,” said Breen. “Our team expects a lot out of us. Last night we weren’t able to bring it. So tonight it was a big thing for us to get us going.”

Barr said his team found a “little more heart and the effort was better” Saturday night.

“You win some more faceoffs, you win more one-on-one battles, you finish a couple more hits and good things happen. You tire them out eventually and I thought we did that towards the end of the game,” Barr said. “That was good to see.”

“We couldn’t get the push we needed (in the third period) and kudos to them, they came out strong,” said Nanooks sophomore right wing Svensson. “We fed their game a little too much which gave them some free offense. It gave us some long shifts in the defensive zone and we couldn’t recover from that.”

Correction: Alaska goaltender Gustavs Grigals had 40 saves. An earlier version had an incorrect figure.