ORONO, Maine - It’s hard to believe that entering Sunday night’s game Maine was winless at their home Alfond Arena. The teams only ‘home’ victory was an out-of-conference game against Mercyhurst at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. The Black Bears were 0-8-4 on the Alfond ice.
Entering this weekend, Maine’s only Hockey East victories this season were against Boston College and these same UMass-Lowell River Hawks. After a tough loss Friday night against Merrimack College, UMass-Lowell needed a victory on the road to keep their name in tournament consideration.
This game was originally supposed to be a 7 p.m. start, but due to it being Super Bowl Sunday, Hockey East moved the start time to 2 p.m. Maine looked to get the scoring started early when 2:05 into the first period, senior forward, Joey Diamond attempted to net a goal on a 2-0 breakaway, but was unsuccessful. Less than eight minutes later, Diamond would be successful and net the games first goal, putting Maine on top of UMass-Lowell, 1-0. The Maine lead wouldn’t last long when 14 seconds later, UML freshmen forward, Michael Fallon tallied his first career goal to even the score, 1-1.
Penalty killing wasn’t at their best for either team. Teams alternated power play goals, starting with a Riley Wetmore goal for UMass-Lowell at 7:53. Maine would add PP goals by Ryan Lomberg and Jake Rutt. UMass-Lowell also had a goal by Ryan McGrath. Maine went 2 for 5 while on the power play, while the River Hawks went 2 for 3.
After equal shot, scoreless, third period the two teams would have to go to extra time to find a winner. UMass-Lowell out-shot Maine 7 to 3 in the overtime period, but Maine would come out on top. Maine senior forward, Diamond, would recover a bad turnover by UMass-Lowell forward, Josh Holmstrom and tally the game-winner at 3:59 in OT.
Maine’s Super Bowl Sunday win moves them in to sole possession of 8th place in the Hockey East standings, leapfrogging Vermont. Maine has grabbed points in the last four games and five of the last six. After going 11 games without a loss, UMass-Lowell dropped both games this weekend and sit alone in 6th. Coming into the weekend, the River Hawks sat in 7th in the PairWise rankings. After this weekend, they dropped all the way down to 18th.
Maine travels to Burlington, VT next weekend to take on the University of Vermont. A win will be crucial for both teams, as they fight for a playoff spot. UMass-Lowell takes on Boston College at Conte Forum. If UMass-Lowell wants to keep their tournament chances alive, they need to take points from BC.