BOSTON — Friday’s loss encapsulated a discouraging season for the Maine hockey team.

The Black Bears led for 38 minutes and trailed only on the final scoreboard after Northeastern defenseman Matt Benning took a drop pass from Zach Aston-Reese in the slot and rifled a shot off the post and into the net 4:41 into overtime for a 3-2 victory.

It was the only shot on goal the Huskies mustered in the extra session, and it was enough to earn them a come-from-behind win in Game 1 of the Hockey East playoff series before an announced crowd of 1,191 at Matthews Arena.

“We tried to make a cute play in the neutral zone instead of make sure we get it deep. That’s how they ended up getting their shot and winning the game,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said after watching his team come up empty on three scoring chances earlier in overtime.

Maine (8-23-6), the No. 11 seed, built a 2-0 lead after one period on goals 17 seconds apart by Cam Brown and Andrew Tegeler.

Sixth-seeded Northeastern (17-13-5) came out strong in the second period and put the Black Bears on their heels for the duration of regulation. John Stevens scored a rebound goal at 17:06 of the second period, and Kevin Roy tied the score 2-2 at 2:54 of the third with a power-play goal.


Maine goaltender Rob McGovern kept his team even with 29 big saves, getting help twice when shots hit the post.

“I think we came out in the second and Northeastern pushed back a little more than we did, and it didn’t really go our way for the first five minutes,” Tegeler said. “The momentum shifted, and we can’t let that happen.”

Northeastern outshot Maine 31-18 through 60 minutes, but couldn’t get a third goal past McGovern. The Huskies were also seeded sixth last year and lost their opening-round series to Merrimack, falling in both games in overtime. In the first one, Merrimack got the winner shortly after Benning had a shot ring off the pipe.

That memory was fresh in the junior’s mind after he beat McGovern to put his team one win away from advancing to the quarterfinals. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“I don’t know if it’s a roommate thing, but me and (Aston-Reese) have always been on the same page,” Benning said. “It’s amazing what happens. It feels good.”

It was the eighth consecutive victory for Northeastern, the last three coming against Maine. The Black Bears were eliminated in last year’s opening round of the playoffs after a 3-2 overtime loss at Vermont in Game 3.


Now Maine has to win back-to-back games in order to keep its season alive, something it hasn’t been able to do since Jan. 29-30 at Massachusetts.

“If we manage the puck better for 60 minutes or 70 minutes, however long it takes, it will give us a better chance to win,” Brown said.

It will help to stay out of the penalty box as well. Maine was whistled for only three penalties Friday, but the final one was costly, and unnecessary. Brian Morgan was called for slashing in the offensive zone, and Roy tied the game 59 seconds later. The Huskies were tops in Hockey East with a 25.3-percent conversion rate on power plays during the regular season.

“We’re playing a very, very good team and they’re going to create their fair share of opportunities,” Gendron said.

“We have to make sure that we don’t ever make it easy on them, whether it’s taking a penalty, because they’re very good on the power play, or it’s managing the puck or it’s being disciplined in your coverage. And you make them earn everything that they get.”

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