ORONO – The University of Maine men are back in the race for a Hockey East tournament berth.
Senior center Wes Clark’s second goal of the game, coming with 2:04 left in overtime, completed a weekend sweep of the University of Massachusetts Sunday afternoon as Maine pulled out a wild 5-4 triumph.
Maine had rallied with two late third-period goals to win Saturday night’s game 3-2.
It was Maine’s first back-to-back wins since Oct. 26-27.
Maine (10-17-3 overall, 6-14-3 Hockey East) has now pulled within two points of UMass (11-13-6, 6-12-5) in the battle for the eighth and final Hockey East tourney slot.
Maine travels to Vermont for a pair next weekend before hosting UMass Lowell for two while UMass plays home-and-home series with Boston University and Merrimack.
Merrimack is one point behind Maine.
On Sunday, Maine built a 4-1 lead on first-period goals by Chris Hahn and Andrew Sweetland and second-period goals by Clark and Sweetland.
But the Minutemen, who received a second-period goal from Chris Davis, tied it up on third-period goals by P.J. Fenton, Alex Berry and Mike Kostka.
In overtime, Clark’s game-winner was set up by Sweetland.
Maine’s Bret Tyler threw the puck from his own zone into the corner to the left of goalie Dan Meyers.
Icing was waved off and Sweetland wound up with the puck behind the net.
“One of their defenseman tried to reverse the puck [from one side to the other] and he put it right on my stick,” said Sweetland. “I saw [Clark] going to the net so I shot it to the net. The coaches are always telling us to put it to the goalie’s feet.”
“I got a piece of it and it went over the goalie’s head,” said Clark. “I was actually trying to shoot it low. I was close to the goalie.”
UMass coach Don Cahoon raced onto the ice to argue that there should have been a icing call on the play but it went for naught as it was apparently ruled that a UMass defenseman could have reached the puck before it crossed the extended goal line.
Clark and Maine goalie Ben Bishop agreed with the call, saying the UMass defenseman wasn’t hustling after the puck.
“It wasn’t pretty. But we came out with a win,” said a happy Bishop, who finished with 36 saves, including 11 off Grade-A (high-percentage) shots.
Hahn opened the scoring by tipping home a Travis Ramsey wrister from the point and Sweetland made it 2-0 with a rising wrister over freshman goalie Paul Dainton’s blocker into the far corner from the right faceoff circle.
Davis got one back in the second period when he roofed a loose puck into the short side before Clark (glove-side high) and Sweetland (five hole) converted breakaways off passes from Tyler and Keenan Hopson, respectively.
UMass outshot Maine 19-5 in the second period and 40-29 for the game.
Fenton’s screened wrister and Berry’s angled shot from Bishop’s left set the stage for Kostka’s game-tying screened wrister from the midpoint with 3:29 left.
Meyers (13 shots-12 saves) made a great glove stop on Billy Ryan’s rebound early in the overtime before Clark won it.
On Saturday night, goals by freshman center Keif Orsini and junior defenseman Matt Duffy in the final 6:10 enabled the Black Bears to snap a seven-game losing streak and eight-game winless skein (0-7-1).
“It’s nice to get a win,” said Bishop, who made 24 saves, including 14 Grade-As, to play a pivotal role in the comeback.
All of his Grade-A saves came in the final two periods.
“I just tried to give our guys a chance to win and they came up huge in the third period,” Bishop said.
Orsini tied it with 6:10 remaining when Dainton misplayed a Rob Bellamy dump-in and Sweetland, parked behind the net, found him with a pass.
“I was behind [Dainton] and he mishandled the puck,” said Sweetland. “I saw Keif and [Bellamy] was right behind him.”
“I went to the net and there wasn’t anyone within a stick-length of me,” said Orsini, who had just come on to the ice during a line change. “[Sweetland] passed it out and I put it in. [Dainton] was trying to get back to the far post.”
Dainton got his pad on the shot but couldn’t stop it.
Duffy’s game-winner with 3:47 left was a deflected wrist shot from the right point off a Hahn pass during a well-executed forecheck by Hahn, Hopson and Ryan.
“I was just trying to get the shot through because I knew we had guys going to the net,” said Duffy, whose wrister hit UMass defenseman Martin Nolet, bounced straight down and took two hops into the far corner.
Sweetland said it was nice to finally have some bounces go their way.
“And the best bounce came on that third goal,” said Sweetland.
Kostka and Ramsey swapped early first-period power-play goals. Kostka one-timed a Cory Quirk pass from behind the net past the screened Bishop before Ramsey’s wrist shot along the ice from the right point off a Ryan pass snaked its way into the far corner.
UMass took a 2-1 lead 37 seconds into the third period when Fenton converted a two-on-one by jamming home a Davis rebound.
UMass had some golden opportunities to extend its lead, but Bishop was clutch and the Minutemen hurt themselves by missing the net or making a poor final pass. UMass had a three-on-one on which it didn’t even get off a shot.
BLACK BEARS 5, MINUTEMEN 4 (OT)
Massachusetts (11-13-6) 0 1 3 0 – 4
Maine (10-17-3) 2 2 0 1 – 5
First period – 1. Maine, Hahn 5 (Ramsey, Hopson), 8:49 (pp); 2. Maine, Sweetland 7 (Bellamy), 18:04. Penalties: UMass, Berry, cross-checking, 8:08; Maine, Dimmen, holding, 14:23.
Second period – 3. UMass, Davis 4 (Fenton, Braun), 9:48; 4. Maine, Clark 8 (Tyler), 13:22; 5. Maine, Sweetland 8 (Hopson), 18:11 (pp). Penalties: Maine, Danis-Pepin, boarding, 2:18; Maine, Ramsey, cross-checking, 4:24; Maine, Dimmen, holding the stick, 11:22; Maine, Carriere, hitting from behind, 16:11; UMass, Quirk, holding, 16:27; UMass, Marcou, obstruction hooking, 19:08.
Third period – 6. UMass, Fenton 7 (unassisted), 1:44 (pp); 7. UMass, Berry 6 (Lecomte, Davis), 4:54; 8. UMass, Kostka 7 (Leaderer), 16:31. Penalties: Maine, Bellamy, tripping, :26; UMass, Berry, interference, 6:19.
Overtime – 9. Maine, Clark 9 (Sweetland), 2:56. Penalties: UMass, bench minor, coach Cahoon, leaving the bench, 2:56.
Shots on goal: UMass 11-19-10-0-40; Maine 11-5-9-4-29
Goaltenders: UMass, Dainton (16 shots-12 saves), Meyers (0:00 of 3rd, 13-12); Maine, Bishop (40-36)
Power-play opportunities: UMass 1-6, Maine 2-3
High-percentage scoring chances: UMass 7-9-5-0-21; Maine 6-4-6-2-18
BLACK BEARS 3, MINUTEMEN 2
Massachusetts (11-12-6) 1 0 1 – 2
Maine (9-17-3) 1 0 2 – 3
First period – 1. UMass, Kostka 6 (Quirk, Braun), 1:33 (pp); 2. Maine, Ramsey 3 (Ryan, House), 4:24 (pp). Penalties: Maine, House, interference, 1:12; UMass, Fenton, hooking, 2:53; Maine, Belmore, hooking, 8:12; UMass, Kessler, 5-min. major, hitting from behind, game misconduct, 14:00; Maine, Orsini, interference, 17:51.
Second period – No scoring. Penalties: Maine, Clark, tripping, 5:22.
Third period – 3. UMass, Fenton 7 (Davis, Kostka), :37; 4. Maine, Orsini 3 (Sweetland, Bellamy), 13:50; 5. Maine, Duffy 6 (Hahn, Hopson), 16:13. Penalties: Maine, Clark, cross-checking, 10:59; UMass, Nolet, boarding, 18:32.
Shots on goal: UMass 5-13-8-26; Maine 7-10-8-25
Goaltenders: UMass, Dainton (26 shots, 23 saves); Maine, Bishop (25-23)
Power-play opportunities: UMass 1 of 5; Maine 1 of 3
High-percentage scoring chances: UMass 3-8-12-23; Maine 5-7-4-16