The University of Maine’s hockey team had its seven-game unbeaten streak snapped on Friday night.
The University of Massachusetts received a pair of third-period goals from sophomore left wing Taylor Makar, brother of former UMass Hobey Baker-award winning defenseman and NHL Rookie of the Year Cale Makar, and another from freshman defenseman Owen Murray as the Minutemen posted a 5-2 victory at Alfond Arena.
UMass improved to 12-16-5 overall and 6-14-3 in Hockey East while UMaine fell to 15-14-5 and 9-10-4.
The teams will play again on Saturday night. It will be Senior Night.
The loss will keep UMaine out of the top five in the Hockey East standings. The team will host a first-round playoff game on Wednesday as the sixth, seventh or eighth seed.
Makar broke a 1-1 tie with his eighth goal of the season 2:27 into the third period and Murray made it 3-1 3:37 later.
Makar capped the three-goal flurry at the 10:30 mark.
Lynden Breen’s second goal of the game and 19th of the season pulled UMaine within two with 5:18 remaining but it was too little, too late.
Cal Kiefiuk added an empty net goal. It was his fifth of the season.
UMass sophomore defenseman Scott Morrow opened the scoring just 55 seconds into the game but UMaine junior center Breen equalized at the 16:36 mark.
Neither team scored in the second period.
Makar scored the go-ahead goal early in the third when he took a pass from Lucas Mercuri and broke down the right wing with Dawson Bruneski covering him.
He was able to get around Bruneski, who was draped over him, and stuff the puck between Victor Ostman’s pads.
“I was able to use my size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and my speed. I tried to take it to the far post and I saw (Ostman’s) legs open up so I slid it in there as tight and as quick as I could,” said Makar.
“I thought he was going to take it to the far post and he snuck it through my legs. I wasn’t expecting it,” Ostman said.
Murray scored with a nifty move across the middle of the slot and a 25-foot wrist shot past the screened Ostman’s glove as a Minuteman player cut across in front of him. It was his first career goal.
Makar netted his second by sweeping home the puck from the low slot.
Breen fired a low shot through Cole Brady’s pads off a two-on-one for his second of the night.
Brady finished with 29 saves while Ostman had 16.
UMass had a significant edge in offensive zone possession in the first period but UMaine had a decided advantage in the middle period.
Morrow, a second round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, pounced on a loose puck in the low slot and snapped it past Ostman for his eighth goal of the season and second in three games.
Reed Lebster controlled the puck near the right wing boards and found some open ice between the top of the right faceoff circle and the point.
He wristed the puck to the net and a UMass player and UMaine player got tangled up at the edge of the crease and bumped into Ostman, who stumbled backward and was off-balance when Morrow shoveled it home.
Breen equalized off a two-on-one with Thomas Freel.
Donavan Houle banked the puck off the boards in the defensive zone to Freel in the neutral zone.
Freel dashed down the left wing and slid the puck to the far post where Breen was able to get stick free from a UMass defenseman who was checking him and tap it into the open net for his 18th of the season.
“That was an enjoyable game between two teams who play hard and compete the right way,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel. “We had some good finishes and that was the difference in the game.”
He added that his team’s good start was important “because we didn’t want Maine to come out humming.”
He also said Maine does a “real good job getting pucks to the back post so we had to take that away for our goalie and collapse down in front of the net. We did a good job at that.”
“They got to the net better than we did,” said UMaine coach and former UMass associate head coach Ben Barr. “The effort wasn’t poor. We played a little loose at times and they capitalized.
“It’s disappointing but that’s hockey. We’ve got to be better,” he added.
“We weren’t awful,” said Breen. “We had glimpses when we played really well. But they’re a good hockey team. You can’t really look at the standings. They have a real good goalie and we didn’t create enough traffic in front of him. We were also a little loose, defensively.”