PORTLAND – The University of Maine Black Bears, one of the stingiest teams in the nation allowing less than two goals per game, were protecting a 3-1 lead when frustrated Northeastern right wing Brian Cummings was called for slashing with only 3:54 remaining.
Game over? Even if the Huskies kill off the penalty, they have only 1:54 remaining to score twice.
But a needless and costly slashing penalty on Bear sophomore defenseman Cliff Loya; the grit and resiliency of the Huskies and uncharacteristic coverage mistakes in the defensive zone by the Bears enabled the Huskies to earn a 3-3 overtime tie before 6,568 at the Cumberland County Civic Center Sunday.
Freshman right wing Trevor Reschny scored both NU goals 55 seconds apart.
Reschny scored a four-on-four goal with 2:08 remaining, just 20 seconds after Loya’s penalty and 14 seconds before Cummings completed serving his penalty.
So when Cummings returned, Northeastern had the power play and Reschny capitalized on the six-on-four with 1:13 remaining. NU coach Bruce Crowder had pulled goalie Mike Gilhooly in favor of the extra attacker 36 seconds earlier.
“This was a great character game for us,” said Crowder. “The guys had to battle a ton of adversity but they kept coming and coming. They never quit.”
Maine senior left wing Dan Kerluke said, “They turned it up a notch and we didn’t.”
Bear junior defenseman and co-captain Doug Janik agreed, saying, “That’s a game we have to win, no matter what.”
Maine coach Shawn Walsh said, “We’ve got a young club, we made some mistakes and we paid for them.”
Maine is now 6-4-4 overall, 3-1-2 in Hockey East. NU is 5-6-2, 2-4-2. Maine beat NU 5-1 in Orono Friday night.
Maine had taken a 3-1 lead in dramatic fashion as senior right wing Matthias Trattnig scored goals just 17 seconds apart midway through the final period. It marked his first two-goal game since Maine’s 9-4 win over New Hampshire last Jan. 7.
Marty Kariya’s power-play goal in the first period had staked Maine to a 1-0 lead but Willie Levesque’s fifth career goal in nine games against Maine tied it 39 seconds into the third period.
After Trattnig’s goals, Maine had a couple of power-play chances, including the abbreviated 1:26 for the Cummings penalty, but couldn’t produce a clinching fourth goal.
Northeastern junior defenseman Mike Jozefowicz, who set up Reschny’s first goal, said the Loya penalty “definitely gave us a lift.”
Loya said, “We were battling for the puck along the boards [at the offensive blue line] and I gave him [center Sean MacDonald] a little crosscheck to the ribs and he went down like he got shot. But I probably shouldn’t have put myself in that position.”
During the four-on-four, Jozefowicz said he noticed Maine was in a penalty-killing mode with both forwards stacked on the left side of the neutral zone. That enabled him to carry the puck up ice and get tbe puck down low to Joe Mastronardi.
“Joe got it back to me and I saw Trevor all alone in front. I just got it down to him,” said Jozefowicz whose hard, low wrist shot was tipped over Maine goalie Mike Morrison’s glove-side shoulder and into the short-side corner.
Once Crowder pulled Gilhooly and the Huskies dumped the puck into the Maine zone, it never came out until Reschny scored the goal he and his mates deserved.
The Huskies got the Bears skating all over the place and Chris Lynch made the pass that Reschny buried from just beyond the top of the crease.
“Lynch skated toward the net and I thought he was going to shoot it. But he got it over to me and I had a wide open net,” said Reschny.
Maine spent 8:31 of the game’s first 9:40 on the power play, including a five-minute major on NU’s Brian Sullivan.
But Maine could score just once when Kariya tapped in a perfect cross-ice pass from Francis Nault.
NU, after being outshot 12-5 in the first period, had a 13-4 shots edge in the second period but couldn’t score.
Levesque tied it with a 25-foot snap shot that tumbled into the net off Morrison’s shoulder.
But Trattnig stunned the Huskies with a snap shot from the left circle over Gilhooly’s glove and a six-foot sweep-in rebound off a Tom Reimann shot that bounced off Gilhooly’s chest.
Northeastern (5-6-2)0 0 3 0 – 3 Maine (6-4-4)1 0 2 0 – 3
First period – 1. Maine, Kariya 4 (Nault, Dimitrakos), 4:36 (pp); Penalties: NU, Peterman, cross-checking, :55; NU, Sullivan, five-minute major for hitting from behind, game disqualification, 3:09; NU, Peterman, obstruction interference, 7:40; Maine, Shaneberger, obstruction interference, 9:43.
Second period – No scoring; Penalties: Maine, Janik, obstruction interference, 4:21; NU, Welch, obstruction interference, 8:12; NU, Lynch, roughing, 19:21; Maine, Begg, roughing, 19:21
Third period – 2. NU, Levesque 5 (Mischler, Gilhooly), :39; 3. Maine, Trattnig 4 (unassisted), 9:08; 4. Maine, Trattnig 5 (Reimann, Kariya), 9:25; 5. NU, Trevor Reschny 4 (Jozefowicz, Mastronardi), 17:52; 6. NU, Reschny 5 (Lynch, Jozefowicz), 18:47 (pp); Penalties: NU, Levesque, high-sticking, 11:15; NU, Cummings, slashing, 16:06; Maine, Loya, slashing, 17:32
Overtime – No scoring; Penalties: Maine, Begg, cross-checking, 4:56; NU, Lynch, roughing and hitting after whistle, 5:00; NU, Cummings, roughing and hitting after whistle, 5:00; Maine, Janik, roughing and hitting after whistle, 5:00; Maine, Kevin Clauson, roughing and hitting after whistle, 5:00
Shots on goal: NU 5-13-8-4-30; Maine 12-4-9-1-26
Power-play opportunities: NU 1 of 4; Maine 1 of 7
High-percentage scoring chances: NU 0-7-5-4 – 16; Maine 9-3-7-0 – 19
Goaltenders: NU, Gilhooly (26 shots-23 saves); Maine, Morrison (30-27)