ORONO — At long last, the University of Maine hockey team won a game at Alfond Arena.
After 12 attempts and an 0-8-4 record at home, the Black Bears beat UMass-Lowell 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Joey Diamond with 1 minute, 1 second remaining.
“I came off the bench, stole a pass and deked the goalie,” said Diamond, who scored two goals Friday night in the third period of a 2-2 tie against Providence. “We felt about the way we ended that game and brought it in to today’s game, popped in a few goals. It’s great.”
Maine improves to 8-14-5 overall, 4-9-5 in Hockey East. UMass-Lowell drops to 14-8-2 and 8-7-2.
Diamond finished with two goals and an assist for Maine.
“I thought he was the best player on the ice today,”said coach Tim Whitehead.
Diamond nearly gave Maine a 1-0 lead on a two-man breakaway with Adam Shemansky. After UMass-Lowell goalie Doug Carr stopped Shemansky’s shot, Diamond batted in the rebound. The goal was waived off because of a high-stick, which was confirmed on replay.
Diamond finally got his first goal halfway through the first period on a highlight reel play, skating in from just inside the blue line deking left, right and faking a shot. It pulled Carr out of the goal and Diamond put the puck behind him.
The lead lasted just 14 seconds.
With a crowd in front of Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, UMass-Lowell winger Michael Fallon somehow swiped the puck into the net as he was falling down.
In the second period, each team committed three penalties and each team scored two power-play goals.
The River Hawks took advantage of a Bryce O’Connor penalty, peppering Ouellette. Riley Wetmore scored on a rebound shot to make it 2-1.
Maine then scored a power-play goal at 6:37 to tie the game 2-2. Jake Rutt fired a shot from the point and Ryan Lomberg tapped in the rebound.
UMass-Lowell grabbed a 3-2 late in the period as Maine tried to kill off a 5-on-3 situation. The Black Bears got one player out of the box, but a Ryan McGrath shot beat Ouellette left side and the Hawks had another power-play goal.
Maine returned the favor 40 seconds later when a slapper by Rutt from the left side beat Carr.
“We’re starting to play they way we know we can,” Rutt said. “A lot of teams don’t think too much of us but we’re fine with the underdog role.”
After a scoreless and somewhat uneventful third period, the five minute overtime was just the opposite. UMass-Lowell had the best chances to score in overtime, but Ouellette stopped seven shots. He finished with 35 saves.
Maine got the win when Diamond stole a pass in the middle of the ice just inside the blue line. He broke in, faking Carr to the right, then shot the puck past Carr to his left.
“I knew we weren’t going to go winless at Alfond this year, but the way we did it, in overtime, battling back, scoring four goals which we haven’t done a lot, it made it a memorable night,” Diamond said.