UMaine’s Sam Becker winds up for a shot against Yale on Monday at Cross Insurance Arena.

PORTLAND — The Black Bears best players played like their best players Monday night.

Eduards Tralmaks used a nifty move to cut off the half-wall and score his fourth goal of the season with less than a minute remaining in overtime, lifting the University of Maine hockey team to a 4-3 win over No. 15 Yale University in front of an announced crowed of 4,308 at the Cross Insurance Arena. The victory was Maine’s first over a ranked opponent this season and the team’s second consecutive win to begin the New Year after winning just once in their final seven games to close out the calendar year.

“It’s been a long time since I put a puck in the net, so it felt good,” said Tralmaks, whose last goal came Dec. 1 at Vermont. “Doing it in overtime felt extra good.”

Chase Pearson and Rob Michel each had a goal and an assist for the Black Bears (7-9-2), while Michell Fossier had three assists in Maine’s final non-conference game of the season. Sophomore Jeremy Swayman, who has started every game this season, made 32 saves.

Maine’s top line of Tralmaks, Pearson and Fossier had a hand in three of Maine’s four goals on the night, which was a good sign for head coach Red Gendron’s team.

“People say you want your best players to be your best players, and usually they are,” Gendron said. “Our team has played better than the record suggests, but at the same time the only stat that matters is how many goals you score versus how many your opponent scores.

“Pearson’s line was absolutely dominant tonight. They were dominant. They were relentless.”

Pearson won a draw in the right wing circle with just over a minute remaining in the extra session, and the Black Bears never let the puck out of their possession for the short remainder of the night. Tralmaks had the puck along the left wing boards, left his defender flat-footed at the top of the circle and fired a wrister that beat Yale netminder Sam Tucker (36 saves).

“The biggest thing is that we’re a big line,” Pearson said. “We want to grind down low. We know we can be a dominant line in college hockey.”

Arguably Maine’s best period of the entire season helped stake the Black Bears out to a 3-1 lead early in the second period.

The Black Bears outshot Yale 18-10 in the opening stanza, answering Bulldog Evan Smith’s goal against the run of play with three straight of their own to the two-goal advantage. Pearson scored his team-leading 11th of the season on the power play just past the midway point of the first, and Michel’s slapshot beat Tucker cleanly for a 2-1 lead at 15:22.

UMaine’s Eduards Tralmaks loses possession after a check from Yale’s Anthony Walsh.

Maine’s momentum carried into the second period, when Emil Westerlund wrestled off Yale’s Tyler Welsh for a blocked shot in the bottom of the right circle and fired the loose puck home at 1:36.

But the Black Bears let off the gas, and Yale found its way back into the game.

Capitalizing on a more than 11-minute stretch where Maine failed to register a shot on goal, the Bulldogs got goals from Andrew Gaus — his first of the season, courtesy of an ill-advised Simon Butala cross-zone pass in his own end of the building — at 5:29 and Mitchell Smith at 10:41.

Tied at 3-3, the Black Bears ended the second period on a stronger note but could not put themselves back on top.

Ditto for the third period, where the best opportunity to score for either team came during an abbreviated Maine power play with under two minutes remaining in regulation. The first power play group of Michel as the only defenseman along with forwards Pearson, Fossier, Tralmaks and Westerlund nearly potted an equalizer off the stick of Pearson but couldn’t convert.

Each team hit a post in overtime — former Greely High standout and current Yale senior Ted Hart found iron off Swayman’s glove, while Brendan Robbins’ bid caught the left post following a nice two-on-one feed from Tim Doherty two minutes in — but could not end the festivities earlier.

The early lead, the Yale comeback, the missed opportunities in overtime, all of them set the stage for Maine’s best win of the season.

“Obviously, with players and their confidence, winning a game against a ranked team in dramatic fashion, that helps,” Gendron said. “We played to our identity as a team with the things we want to bring every night.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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