March 20, 2004
Hockey East Championship
Running on Empty
Maine prevails in fourth-longest game ever

By Nate Ewell

Maine 2, Massachusetts 1 3OT
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
No Scoring

Second Period

1-ME Dustin Penner (10) PP
16:24 M. Leveille
Third Period
1-MA Greg Mauldin (15) PP
13:47 M. Degon, T. Pock
First Overtime
No Scoring
Second Overtime
No Scoring
Third Overtime
2-ME Ben Murphy (3) EV
9:27 M. Deschamps, C. Lyall
MA: Gabe Winer, 109:27, 59 saves, 2 GA
ME: Jim Howard, 109:27, 64 saves, 1 GA
Penalties: MA 7/14; ME 8/16
Power Plays: MA 1-4; ME 1-3
Attendance: 16,743
All-Tournament Team
G: Jim Howard, Maine (MVP)
D: Prestin Ryan, Maine
D: Thomas Pock, Massachusetts
F: Colin Shields, Maine
F: Mike Warner, Massachusetts
F: Greg Mauldin, Massachusetts

BOSTON – Just before midnight, after 109 minutes and 27 seconds in the fourth-longest game in college hockey history, Ben Murphy looked like he could skate forever.

After deflecting Mathew Deschamps' shot between the legs of Massachusetts goaltender Gabe Winer to score the winner, Murphy sprinted towards the far end of the ice. It was a celebration that belied the physical and emotional strain every player was under after six periods of intense hockey.

"I felt good out there, actually," said Maine goaltender Jim Howard afterwards, in a sweaty t-shirt with his leg pads still on. "I still feel good right now, for some reason. Whenever I sit down it will probably hit me."

Maine seemed to maintain its strength throughout the lengthy overtimes, while Massachusetts faded after an impressive first OT.

"We did feel that eventually the tide would start to turn in our favor, the longer it went," head coach Tim Whitehead said. "We didn't shorten our bench, and we had a little bit more of a rest after yesterday (having played the first semifinal game)."

The Black Bears stayed mentally and physically sharp between periods as well. Murphy got a shot of coffee from assistant coach Campbell Blair before returning to the ice for the third overtime, while the team's leaders, led by Todd Jackson, kept their teammates focused.

"We've really got to compliment our captains," Howard said. "They had us upbeat in the dressing room the whole time."

Massachusetts head coach Don Cahoon marveled at the intensity of both teams as the game went on.

"You can't imagine what it's like between periods trying to keep these guys fresh," he said. "There are all sorts of battles with cramps, battles with stomach ailments."

Murphy, for all his speed on the ice after scoring the winner, wasn't shy about his fatigue.

"I'm just glad it's over," he said. "I'm so tired."


Jim Howard doesn't usually play games on consecutive nights for Maine. When he got the start Saturday night, little did he know he'd be playing the equivalent of three games in two days.

But apparently he likes the time in net. Howards heroics, especially in the first overtime when Massachusetts held a 19-8 shot advantage, were the only reason this game lasted as long as it did.

Along the way, he earned tournament MVP honors and gave head coach Tim Whitehead to stick with him for the NCAA Tournament instead of returning to a rotation of Howard and senior Frank Doyle.

"The goaltending was immense at both ends," said UMass head coach Don Cahoon. "This game could have been over 10 times."

While Gabe Winer was impressive at the other end, it was Howard's performance that recalled names like Chris Terreri. He carried a shutout streak of 164:13 until Greg Mauldin's third period goal, and he hasn't allowed an even-strength goal in his last 11 games. Howard, while setting a Maine record for saves in a game with 63, fell one stop short of Terreri's Hockey East Tournament record.

Howard's best save? An acrobatic, windmill-like stop on Thomas Pöck, as the Minuteman defenseman fired his own rebound.

"How Howard stopped that is beyond me," Cahoon said.

"I've been saving that move all season," Howard joked afterwards.

The way he's playing, he could have four more games to showcase his talents. And he can play longer, if need be.

INCH's Three Stars of the Weekend

3. Dustin Penner, Maine
On a team full of speedsters like Todd Jackson and Greg Moore, the 6-foot-4 Penner adds size, and he used it nicely this weekend.

2. Thomas Pöck, Massachusetts
Massachusetts' leader nearly ended things in the first overtime on one of his many end-to-end rushes.

1. Jim Howard, Maine
Howard typically makes every save look easy, but he was acrobatic when necessary Saturday night.


• If Massachusetts had won, Michigan State might have lost its NCAA Tournament bid. Maine would have owed the Spartans an apology, and not just for this game. Notre Dame could have edged out MSU for the final at-large spot on the strength of quality wins, including a 1-0 decision against the Black Bears in December.

Then again, it could have been just the universe balancing out. In 1997, Michigan State gained the 12th and final bid to the tournament that would have gone to Maine, had it not been ineligible for the postseason that year. Shawn Walsh, a former MSU assistant coach whose sons lived in East Lansing at the time, even attended the Spartans' selection show viewing party that year and reminded the team of their good fortune.

• The result of this game would have no impact on Maine's seed in the NCAA Tournament, but it was clear right from the starting lineups how important the title was to the Black Bears. Whitehead broke from his usual goaltending rotation and gave the nod to red-hot Jim Howard for the second straight night.

• Tim Whitehead showed some anger behind the Maine bench that was reminiscent of his predecessor, Walsh, after a whistle behind the play stopped a Maine rush on which Colin Shields shot (after the whistle) and scored. Whitehead's emotions continued to boil shortly thereafter during a confrontation involving several players in front of the Maine bench. Whitehead ended up standing in front of the players' bench, but never got one foot up on the dasher, Walsh-style.

• The Bruins' 5-4, come-from-behind win over Tampa Bay Saturday afternoon had more college hockey implications than you might think. First, it improves Boston's chances of getting home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which would coincide with the Frozen Four at the FleetCenter. Second, it gave FleetCenter personnel an opportunity to practice a simpler version of the change-up that would be required in April. Essentially, the Fleet had to replace some of the dasher-board advertisements; more of them would have to change for NCAA games. Hockey East officials reported that the changeover went smoothly.

• After a weekend full of reviewed goals, the off-ice officials confirmed that they did take a look at Murphy's game-winner to confirm that it was legit.

• Overheard in the press box between the second and third overtimes: "Is Steve Levy working this game?"


Well into the second overtime the two teams were skating well, and letting their speed show. The game was played at a great pace, with much more end-to-end action than the score, or the length of the game, would suggest. Only in the third overtime did the teams really start to show their fatigue.

A belated plus to Jack Parker for a classy move on Friday night. As some of his Terriers were leaving the ice following their 1-0 loss to Maine, Parker called the entire team back to center ice for a stick salute.

Broken one-piece sticks are becoming to hockey what seagulls were to the Toronto Blue Jays' old Exhibition Stadium: they're everywhere. One actually led to Maine's first goal, as Michel Léveillé snapped his twig on a one-timer, and Dustin Penner put the rebound past Gabe Winer. In the second overtime Massachusetts had two sticks break on one shift, but Winer froze the puck before Maine could do any damage.


Maine, assured of a No. 1 seed when the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced tomorrow (2:30 p.m., ESPN2), awaits its regional destination – Manchester or Albany.

Massachusetts, coming as close as you could conceive to its first NCAA bid, ends its most successful season in history. "We want to get back to this game," said head coach Don Cahoon afterwards. "We want to get back and win this game."

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