Justin Braun scores two goals for the Minutemen

Justin Braun tallied two goals for the Minutemen

ORONO, Maine - The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team fell to UMass 4-3 on Saturday night, however, still clinched home ice for the upcoming Hockey East quarterfinals. The Black Bears finish the regular season 16-15-3 overall and 13-12-2 in Hockey East play. UMass is 18-16-0, 13-14-0 in conference play.

Maine hosts UMass Lowell for the upcoming Hockey East quarterfinals. UMass will travel to face Boston College.

UMass jumped out to a 1-0 lead 10:16 into the first period when Casey Wellman notched his 20th goal of the season. Doug Kublin would rip a shot on Maine goaltender Shawn Sirman (Blezard Valley, Ontario) that was kicked aside but right to the stick of Wellman, who stuffed the puck past Sirman. Kevin Czepiel also assisted on the play for UMass. The Minutemen would grab a 2-0 advantage just under two minutes later when Justin Braun ripped a slap shot by Sirman while the teams were skating 4-on-4. James Marcou picked up his 36th assist on the play.

The Black Bears jumped back into the game 15:24 into the first period when Jeff Dimmen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) cut the Minutemen lead in half. Will O’Neill (Salem, Mass.) would force a turnover in the neutral zone and flip the puck into the UMass zone. Dimmen would control the puck, skating in and shooting the puck past Minutemen goaltender Paul Dainton.

UMass extended its lead to 3-1 with 47 seconds remaining in the first period. The Minutemen would work their power play as Matt Irwin slid the puck to Casey Wellman in the right corner. Wellman would fire a pass from the corner up to the blueline, finding Justin Braun who fired a slap shot that beat Dave Wilson (Caledon East, Ontario), who relieved Sirman after the second UMass goal.

The Black Bears would battle back as Gustav Nyquist (Malmo, Sweden) notched his 18th goal of the year just 2:13 into the second period. The power play goal was set up with Tanner House (Cochrane, Alberta) sending the puck to O’Neill. O’Neill would send a pass down to Nyquist in the right circle. Nyquist collected the puck and then unleashed a wrist shot by Dainton to once again bring the Black Bears within a goal.

With 4:05 remaining in the second period, UMass would once again extend its lead to two goals when Brett Watson skated in and flicked a back hand shot past Wilson. Brian Keane forced the turnover for the Minutemen while Marc Concannon also assisted on the play.

Maine would once again battle back within one goal. After pulling Wilson, Brian Flynn (Lynnfield, Mass.) fired a shot past Dainton with 30 seconds remaining in the contest with Dimmen and House assisting on the play. Despite out shooting UMass 14-4 in both the second and third periods, the Black Bears would fail to tie the game as the Minutemen picked up the victory, 4-3.

Maine capitalized on two of their five power play chances while the Minutemen were 1-4 with the man advantage. The Black Bears outshot UMass 38-20.

Wilson picks up the loss for Maine, falling to 0-3-0, after making 13 saves. Dainton scored the win for UMass, moving to 15-13-0 as he made 35 saves during the contest.

Before and after the game Maine honored seniors Kevin Swallow (Stanwood, Mich.), David deKastrozza (Toms River, N.J.), Dave Wilson (Caledon East, Ontario) and Brett Carriere (Ottawa, Ontario).

Maine returns to action when it hosts UMass Lowell on Friday, March 12. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM at Alfond Arena. Tickets may be purchased at the Maine ticket office starting Monday at 8:30 AM. Tickets can also be purchased over the phone by calling 207-581-BEAR or 1-800-756-TEAM.