The University of Maine Men’s ice-hockey team has started their season triumphantly, bringing in two wins over the St. Lawrence University Saints during their first two games of the 2018-19 season.
The two game series kicked off with a contest on Friday, Oct. 12 at the Harold Alfond Arena in Orono.
The Black Bears, propelled by their triumph over the Prince Edward Island Panthers during a preseason game on Oct. 6 with a finishing score of 6-1, brought in a victory with a score of 3-1 over St. Lawrence Friday.
Starting off the game, the Saints forced the Black Bears to play strong defense. The first period was tense as the Black Bears found their footing. Second-year goalie Jeremy Swayman made nine saves in the first period alone, making 16 saves total during the game on Friday night.
Although during the first period the Black Bears played heavy defense, they came back strong in the second period. Chase Pearson, a third-year from Cornwall, Ontario, found the net first for UMaine 10 minutes into the second period.
The second score of the game was made by Ryan Smith, a third-year from Roanoke, Virginia. Smith corralled the puck off the left-wing board, and fired the puck past SLU’s goaltender with nine minutes and 14 seconds left in the second period.
St. Lawrence’s Philip Alftberg was able to sneak the puck past Swayman, scoring the Saints only goal of the night on a power play opportunity, just two minutes after the Black Bears had scored again, making the score 2-1.
Pearson iced away the game for the Black Bears, scoring the final goal of the night after receiving the puck from Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, a first-year from Denmark. Pearson finished off the play with pressure from the St. Lawrence defensemen, and solidly landed the decisive goal for the Black Bears.
The Black Bears were unable to efficiently capitalize on their power play opportunities, only converting one of seven power play opportunities. Luckily, the defense played well, as Swayman turned away 16 of the 17 shots made by St. Lawrence, and the defense blocked 12 shots. The Black Bears were able to consistently keep the pressure on the Saints to play strong defense, winning 40 of the 63 faceoffs on the night.
The Black Bears returned on Saturday evening to face off against the Saints once again, this time bringing in a victory with a score of 4-1 over the Saints. The Black Bears are once again off to a 2-0 start, reminiscent of their 2016-17 season.
The first period started off quickly, with the first goal landing just 31 seconds into the game. The goal was Schmidt-Svejstrup’s first collegiate goal, and it gave the Black Bears a lead that they held onto for the rest of the game.
Patrick Shea, a third-year from Marshfield, Massachusetts, made the second goal of the night for the Black Bears. Mitchell Fossier, a third-year from Alpharetta, Georgia, caught the puck in from the neutral zone and tore down the ice with a 2-on-1 break. He sent the puck backhanded to Shea, who made a short-handed breakaway and brought the score up to 2-0 in favor of the Black Bears.
Rob Michel, team captain and a fourth-year from Camillus, New York, made the third goal of the night with a rebound. His initial shot was saved and bounced out hard but returned to him. His teammates Schmidt-Svejstrup and Fossier provided assists and cover, allowing Michel to land the goal with six minutes left in the third period.
St. Lawrence’s first and only goal of the night came during a 4-on-2. Jake Stevens fired a shot off the feed from Zach Risteau, Ryan Garvey deflected the puck into the net, bringing the score up to 3-1.
Maine’s triumphant last goal of the night was made by Tim Doherty, a fourth-year from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Doherty handled a hard shot that kicked from behind the net out to the left circle, where he handled his way around defenders and fired it into the net with a wrist shot seven minutes into the third period. The Black Bears finished the game with a total of 39 shot attempts.
Swayman showed great hope for the season, following a strong Friday night performance with an even better game on Saturday night, turning away 23 of 24 shots on Saturday evening. During the second period, Swayman impressed with his hand eye coordination, snagging multiple shots out of the air with ease.
Coach Red Gendron told the Portland Press Herald, “I think overall we were better tonight than we were [Friday] night, we had one lull [in the second period], but I think you’re going to get those in most college hockey games. We want to get to the point where we can be precise in what we do for 60 minutes and not have any significant lapses … when that does happen, Jeremy Swayman is a pretty good goalie. I thought he had a really good weekend.”
Though the game ended in a victory for the Black Bears, it was marred by an injury to first-year Adam Dawe. Dawe was leveled near the center of the rink by the Saints’ defenseman Dylan Woolf with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Woolf was awarded a five-minute major penalty, and no post-game updates were given on Dawe.
The Black Bears will return to the ice on Oct. 19 against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, and will be playing a series that will continue on Saturday, Oct. 20.