The University of Maine men’s hockey team (2-3-1) played this Friday and Saturday night in Storrs, Connecticut. The Black Bears faced off against the University of Connecticut Huskies (3-2-1). Maine went home with a record of 0-1-1 for the series, losing 2-5 in the first game and tying the second 2-2.
The Black Bears came out on the ice strong, scoring a minute into the first period. The goal was scored by third-year forward Tim Doherty who caught the defense off guard, with the combined assist from first-year forward Adam Dawe and third-year forward Mitchell Fossier.
This was a great push of energy for Maine as they took the lead early. The lead didn’t last long, however, as third-year Huskies forward Alexander Payusov managed to sneak the puck past UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman.
In the next 13 minutes both teams exchanged shots with no luck. Swayman saved multiple shots during this time with the help of a strong defense. However, the Huskies eventually broke through two minutes before the end of the period when fourth-year forward Karl El-Mir took a pass from first-year forward Jáchym Kondelík, who was behind the net, and beat Swayman with a top-shelf, stick-side goal.
This ended the period with a score of 2-1 Huskies. With a strong momentum and a home crowd, UConn moved into the second hungry for more. The Black Bears were determined and prevented the Huskies from scoring. Being out shot by a ratio of 16-8 shots on goal, the Black Bears’ defense impressively buckled down, but were unable to muster an effective offense to take the pressure off of their defense.
The third period was a completely different tale, as both teams lit up the scoreboard for a combined four goals. Kicking off the scoring action was El-Mir, who led his teammates down the ice against a Black Bears power play to score a shorthanded goal. UMaine, down 3-1, quickly responded. Second-year forward Emil Westerlund recovered a Husky turnover deep in their zone and fired on net, making the score 3-2 Huskies with 15 minutes left in regulation. With a hope of coming out with the win, Maine was persistent, pressing hard offensively. However, the Huskies weren’t going to let the comeback happen, as first-year forward Carter Turnbull found the back of the net during a 2-on-1 down the ice with the assist from fourth-year defender Miles Gendron.
The following tilt between the two teams was much more exciting of a game, as UMaine came back late from a deficit to tie the score and force overtime. Both teams played lockdown defense in the first period, as both teams had five shots on goal but neither was able to score.
The second period was more exciting, as UConn was getting into a rhythm. On a power play, resulting from a holding penalty from third-year forward Chase Pearson, the Huskies took their 5-on-4 advantage and Payusov found the back of the net, with an assist from second-year forward Evan Wisocky and Kondelík. Payusov scored the second and final goal of the game for the Huskies, once again on a power play, and once again assisted by Wisocky. Down 2-0 and unable to stop Payusov, the Black Bears outlook was bleak heading into the final period in regulation.
The Black Bears showed up in the third and went to work, with Pearson scoring midway into the period off of a power play and an assist from fourth-year defenseman Rob Michel. Now down just 2-1, the Black Bears roared to life, playing their hardest in the final 10 minutes of action. With under two minutes left in regulation, Black Bears’ Head Coach Red Gendron pulled Swayman off the ice, sending first-year forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup out onto the ice to deploy six attackers in an attempt to tie the game. Gendron’s gamble paid dividends, as Schmidt-Svejstrup scored off of a deflected shot from Michel. Neither team was able to alter the score before the horn sounded for the end of regulation, and the two teams headed to a five-minute overtime period.
The Black Bears outplayed the Huskies offensively for the first time in the series, as they outshot UConn six to one in overtime, but Huskies’ third-year goalie Adam Huska and Maine’s Swayman stopped every shot, sending both teams home with a tie.
The Black Bears, now sitting at 2-3-1 after starting their season 2-0, have a full week to prepare before their next series, where they’ll play host to the University of Massachusetts Lowell on Friday, Nov. 6 and Saturday, Nov 7. The puck will drop at 7 p.m.