The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team sent a message to the other teams of Hockey East over the weekend with a sweep of Boston College. This Black Bear team may have been in the cellar of the league all season, but it is capable of taking out any team on any given night. After 4-1 Friday night and 3-1 Saturday night victories, the Black Bears are only two points behind the University of Vermont for the final spot in the Hockey East playoffs with 11 games to go.
Black Bear junior forward Jon Swavely had an excellent series, scoring three points on the weekend with an assist on Friday night and two of UMaine’s three goals in Saturday night’s contest.
Ouellette stops 31 shots Friday as Maine skates past BC 4-1
Boston College head coach Jerry York returned to the sideline for the first time in four games after surgery to repair a detached retina as last-place UMaine visited the Conte Forum Friday night for the first of two games against the Eagles.
With many people expecting a BC victory, Maine spoiled York’s return party with a 4-1 victory behind junior goaltender Martin Ouellette’s 31 saves.
Senior forward Joey Diamond wasted almost no time putting the Black Bears on the board, scoring unassisted for his sixth goal of the season 3:11 into the first period.
Later on in the first period, UMaine freshman defenseman Bill Norman and freshman forward Devin Shore assisted freshman forward Ryan Lomberg with 20 seconds to play in the first period to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead, which is all they would need for the rest of the game.
Only 4 minutes after committing a hooking penalty, UMaine freshman forward Will Merchant used an assist from junior forward Jon Swavely to extend the Black Bear lead to 3-0, 8:05 into the second period.
UMaine committed six penalties in the game which provided BC five power-play opportunities. The Eagles only took advantage of one of these power plays to score a goal, which did not happen until 13:06 had expired in the final period of play.
UMaine freshman defenseman Conor Riley committed a tripping penalty 12:43 into the third period, setting up a five-on-four for BC. Eagle junior forward Kevin Hayes and senior forward Pat Mullane assisted senior forward Steven Whitney to provide BC with their only goal of the game.
BC pulled senior goaltender Parker Milner with just under two minutes to play, setting up an empty-net goal for UMaine senior forward Kyle Beattie 19:11 into the third period to give the Black Bears a 4-1 victory. Milner finished the game with 35 saves
J. Swavely nets two as UMaine completes sweep of BC with a 3-1 victory
After pummeling the Eagles the previous night, the Black Bears looked to return home with a pair of victories and a sweep to bring back to Orono. The Black Bears’ victory the previous night was their first at the Conte forum since 2005, and they did not want another seven seasons to pass before their next one.
With 18:43 gone by in the first period, Merchant returned the favor to Swavely after being assisted for a goal the previous night, as Swavely scored his first goal of the season and first goal of the game to put the Black Bears on top 1-0.
Just under 3 minutes played in the third period, UMaine sophomore forward Connor Leen scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season off an assist from Lomberg and Shore to extend the UMaine lead to 2-0.
Ten minutes later, Merchant tallied his second assist of the evening as he and senior defenseman Mark Nemec assisted Swavely on his second goal of the game to make UMaine’s lead 3-0.
With only 9 seconds to play in the game, the Eagles narrowly avoided a shutout when sophomore forward Quinn Smith and freshman defenseman Teddy Doherty assisted junior forward Patrick Brown to finish up scoring for the game at 3-1 in favor of the Black Bears.
Ouellette had another great night in goal with 24 saves, improving his record after the series to 5-7-4, while BC used sophomore goaltender Brian Billet for the first time this season. Billet saved 26 shots and goes 0-1-0 for the year.
Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play, with BC and UMaine going 0-3 and 0-6, respectively.
After the sweep, UMaine improves to 7-14-4 on the year with a 3-9-4 Hockey East record while BC falls to 14-7-2 with an 11-6-1 Hockey East record.
UMaine picks up four points on the weekend and has 10 overall in the conference, only two behind UVM who holds the last spot for the Hockey East playoffs.
The Black Bears return home next weekend for a weekend that features matchups with the Providence College Friars and University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks. UMaine faces off against 10-10-4 Providence on Friday Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. The Black Bears and the 14-7-2 River Hawks play Sunday Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Both games are scheduled to take place at Alfond Arena.