The UPEI defenceman scored at 8:47 of the second overtime period as the Panthers edged St. Francis Xavier 5-4 to sweep the X-Men in their best-of-three Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey quarterfinal series Friday night at MacLauchlan Arena.
The Panthers had blown a 4-1 lead in the second period when they looked to be in firm control before the X-men launched a gritty comeback.
Maione's goal sent a sellout crowd of more than 1,600 fans into an uproar, and propelled the Panthers into the conference semifinals.
For Maione, the goal was redemption after giving up the puck leading to the X-men's third goal at a critical point in the third period.
"I coughed up the puck and it led to their third goal. . . I knew I had to do something to help the team out," said an elated Maione after the game. "So it felt great to get that back for my team.
"(We're all) just ecstatic."
Head coach Forbes MacPherson described the team as being "relieved" after the nail-biting 80 minutes.
"We had to give every single thing we could to get the win," he said.
Friday's victory came after UPEI's slim 4-3 win in Game 1 Wednesday in Antigonish, N.S., with Mike MacIsaac scoring in the final two minutes.
That game also saw St. F.X. bounce back from an early Panthers’ lead.
"That's the nature of sports when there can be a huge momentum swing. When you have the lead and you start playing the wrong way and for the wrong reasons that's what happens," said MacPherson.
"To give them (St. FX) credit. Their team is obviously a reflection of their head coach (Brad Peddle), and there was no quit in them."
UPEI's other goals were scored by Tyler Brown, Mason Wilgosh, Travis McIsaac and Chris DeSousa. Mike MacIsaac earned two helpers while singles went to Brown, DeSousa, Matt Boyle, Dylan Quaile and Alex Wall.
St. F.X. goals were scored by Michael Kirkpatrick, Zackary MacQueen, Brad Cuzner and Jason Bast. Nick Pageau earned two helpers, while Kirkpatrick, Josh Day, Steven Kuhn and Ted Stephens all had singles.
It appeared the Panthers had the game sealed after the first 20 minutes with a 3-0 lead, and the shots 22-6 in the team's favour.
However, the game was far from over as St. F.X. replaced netminder Joseph Perricone with Drew Owsley in the second.
Kirkpatrick netted his goal 23 seconds into the period.
While DeSousa's goal followed on a power play at 4:50, MacQueen narrowed the score at 18:14 to make it 4-2 going into the third.
Cuzner scored early in the period, and it appeared UPEI would just have to hang on for the win.
However, Bast's goal at 14:26 made it a fresh game and neither team capitalized before the end of the third.
Both teams were noticeably fatigued during the first overtime period, with DeSousa having the best chance on a clear breakaway.
However, a 15-minute break in between overtime periods gave players some fresh legs.
St. F.X. missed an open net early in the period, and it was only a few plays later when Maione scooped up a rebound from Brown.
On the right side of the net, Maione snapped the puck to the far side of Owsley and it was over.
"I don't even know where it went I just saw it go in the net," he said.
Wayne Savage made 37 saves for the win. Perricone made 19 saves on 22 shots while Owsley made 22 saves on 24.
In the other AUS quarterfinal, the Acadia Axemen defeated the Moncton Blue Eagles 5-2 on the road. The final and deciding game of that series will be played on Sunday in Wolfville at 7 p.m.
If Acadia wins, the Panthers will face the top-seeded UNB Varsity Reds in the next series. If Moncton wins, the Panthers will face the second-place Saint Mary's Huskies.
While the team is unsure who they'll be playing in the semifinals, Maione said the team feels confident after ending the series.
"We know what kind of character we have in this room and it showed out there, we never quit," he said.