ORONO – It could have been Halloween night.
And University of Maine junior defenseman Bret Tyler tricked UMass sophomore goalie Jon Quick to earn the treat: a game-winning goal.
On an evening in which a bank of lights went out at the Alfond Arena, prompting three intermissions instead of two, Tyler turned out the lights on the Minutemen with just 4:36 remaining to spark the Bears to a 4-1 victory.
Wes Clark dove and extended himself as far as he could to swat home an empty-net goal to ice it with 38 seconds remaining, and Michel Leveille, who had scored the lone goal in the first period, added another empty-netter.
UMass freshman right wing Will Ortiz scored his first collegiate goal to tie it 1-1 on the power play 4:41 into the third period as he one-timed a deflected diagonal pass from Justin Braun into the short side.
Quick showed why he is the highest NHL draft choice in school history (third round, 72nd overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings) with a superb 24-save performance, and his mates turned in an impressive performance against the nation’s top-ranked team.
Quick had 12 Grade-A (high-percentage) stops.
Maine sophomore Ben Bishop wasn’t tested as much but was equally sharp, making 16 saves, including eight Grade-As, and playing the puck effectively to help out his defense.
Maine improved to 6-0 overall while playing its Hockey East opener. UMass fell to 2-1-1 and 1-1, respectively.
The 5-foot-8 Tyler decided it by snapping an eight-game goal-less drought after taking a pass from Billy Ryan, who had circled the net from right to left.
Tyler carried the puck around the net and came out to the left of Quick.
“When I wrapped around the net, I didn’t have a real good angle, so I was looking to pass,” said Tyler. “I saw no one was open and he kind of got up. I tried to get it five-hole and it squeaked through.”
“That’s one I wish I had back,” said Quick. “I thought he was going to try a wraparound, so I got down and put the paddle [of his stick] down to protect the lower part of the net. Then he pulled out a little bit, so I started to come up. I started to lift my upper body up and he shot it back down as I was going up.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead called Tyler a “great player.”
“His instincts are exceptional,” said Whitehead. “He had a great all-around game. He got pucks to the net, he jumped up into the offense. He has a lot of composure.”
Tyler was particularly pleased to supply the Bears with the game-winner after taking a five-minute major for pulling off P.J. Fenton’s facemask during a second-period skirmish.
“I took a stupid penalty. I told the guys it was my fault and thanked them tremendously for saving me and killing those five minutes off,” said Tyler. “I told them I’d do whatever I could to get it back for them.”
“In those key situations at the end of the game, I’m more of an offensive guy. I’m not the biggest defenseman in the league and I’m not the best defensive defenseman. But I like to have the puck on my stick at the end of the game with the game on the line,” added Tyler.
Leveille opened the scoring with 3:15 left in the first period as a pinpoint cross-ice pass from Josh Soares sent Leveille in on Quick down the left wing off a three-on-two.
Leveille tucked his 12-footer into the short side.
Maine did an exceptional job on the penalty kill in the second period and Bishop came up with seven Grade-A saves, several during goalmouth scrambles.
Quick robbed Soares on the doorstep after he was set up by Teddy Purcell, snared a Leveille backhander after he was sent in alone by a high Bishop flip, and got his blocker on a Keith Johnson one-timer from the middle of the slot.
A brief power outage took out a bank of lights with 7:51 left in the second period, so the teams were sent to their dressing rooms after a 15-minute delay.
The ice was resurfaced and they played the final 7:51 of the second period before switching ends and playing 10 minutes of the third period before the ice was resurfaced again.
“Both goaltenders played unreal,” said UMass senior center and captain Matt Anderson.
Tyler said Quick was fantastic” and the Minutemen “always play us tough. We knew they’d be all fired up after their win at UNH [3-2 Thursday], so we had to match their intensity.”
UMass coach Don Cahoon said, “We played hard. It was competitive but obviously not enough. We turned the puck over too many times and you can’t give Maine as many transition chances as we did without getting hurt. Bishop played well when he had to. We had chances to converge on him and get something done, but he was up to the task.”
Soares and Travis Ramsey had two assists apiece.
BLACK BEARS 4, MINUTEMEN 1
UMass (2-1-1) 0 0 1 – 1
Maine (6-0) 1 0 3 – 4
First period – 1. Maine, Leveille 5 (Soares, Purcell), 16:45. Penalties: Maine, Hahn, hooking, 10:30; UMass, Watson, unsportsmanlike conduct-diving, 10:30; UMass, Anderson, hooking, 12:55; Maine, Shepheard, slashing, 14:07
Second period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, de Kastrozza, holding, 4:11; UMass, Fenton, roughing, 6:11; Maine, Tyler, five-minute major for grabbing the facemask and minor for roughing, 6:11; Maine, Duffy, roughing, 11:41; UMass, Ortiz, hitting from behind, 11:41; UMass, Jarman, roughing, 11:41; Maine, Hahn, obstruction-tripping, 14:26; UMass, Nolet, obstruction-interference, 14:26; UMass, Nolet, tripping, 18:11
Third period – 2. UMass, Ortiz 1 (Braun, Nolet), 4:41 (pp); 3. Maine, Tyler 1 (Ryan), 15:24; 4. Maine, Clark 4 (Ramsey, Hamilton), 19:22 (en); 5. Maine, Leveille 6 (Ramsey, Soares), 19:50 (en). Penalties: Maine, Danis-Pepin, tripping, 3:00; Maine, Hahn, charging, 13:16; UMass, Davis, holding the stick, 13:16
Shots on goal: UMass 3-10-4-17; Maine 9-9-10-28
Goaltenders: UMass, Quick (26 shots-24 saves); Maine, Bishop (17-16)
Power-play opportunities: UMass 1 of 4, Maine 0 of 3
High-percentage scoring chances: UMass 1-7-2-10; Maine 6-8-9-23