Praise for Maine win deflected Flynn’s way
Last night’s Hockey East meeting between New Hampshire and Maine will count as a regular-season game in the standings, but to the players who took the ice in front of 38,456 at Fenway Park, it was anything but business as usual.
Brian Flynn’s goal 1:29 into overtime gave the Black Bears the 5-4 victory in the Frozen Fenway nightcap. Spencer Abbott had the puck along the left wall and found Joey Diamond in the high slot. Diamond sent a shot on goal, and Flynn found himself in the right place at the right time for the deflection, beating Casey DeSmith.
“Obviously, it feels great to get this win,’’ Flynn said. “I was crashing the net and fortunately it just kind of hit my stick and popped over his head.’’
“What a great night, both games going to OT, obviously to be on the winning side is a real thrill for us,’’ Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “The fans were unbelievable, really a great atmosphere. It was electric in there, and a great experience for all our guys, and the key is to get the last bounce.’’
The Wildcats (6-11-2, 4-8-1) have dropped five in a row, and seven of their last nine.
“I think there was a lot of positives out of it,’’ UNH coach Dick Umile said. “[Our guys] battled back and played pretty well against a good team in this atmosphere. We’ll take that as a positive and go from there. There’s a lot of hockey left.’’
In an opening 40 minutes filled with stoppages, it was the Wildcats’ inability to stay out of the penalty box that opened the door for Maine (10-7-2, 7-6-1) to strike twice on the power play in less than a minute during the second period.
“I thought we started gaining some momentum, gaining some possessions, and controlling the play a little bit more,’’ Whitehead said.
A mere 17 seconds after Kevin Goumas put UNH ahead, 2-1, on a five-on-three shorthanded breakaway goal, Diamond pulled Maine even when he tipped an Abbott blast from the left point past DeSmith at 11:44.
“We were confident,’’ Diamond said. “Right when we looked back at coach when they scored, there was no chance he was taking us off the ice on that play, he knew we were going to come back and get a goal.’’
Mark Anthoine put Maine ahead, 3-2, with his second goal of the night 50 seconds later with a wrister from the left circle.
“He’s just worked extremely hard to keep improving,’’ Whitehead said of Anthoine. “He’s putting pucks on the net and gives us a little supplemental scoring, which we need. He takes some pressure off our top line. It’s great to have a top line but it’s also good to have some other guys put pucks on net.’’
Diamond and Abbott opened the third period with a highlight-reel scoring sequence to give Maine a two-goal cushion.
After Diamond won the puck along the right wall, he found Abbott in the high slot. Abbott faked a pass one way, then spun a backhanded pass back to Diamond, who was streaking toward the net and slipped it between DeSmith’s pads.
“Our line talked about how we wanted to get one right away because the ice was nice and smooth,’’ said Diamond.
Despite unseasonably warm weather (49 degrees at game time), conditions were not a problem.
“Nobody was complaining about [the ice],’’ Umile said. “I mean, the boards weren’t as lively, but the guys did a great job with it. The ice got better as the game went on. I didn’t see anything and it was fine with our guys.’’