The University of Maine men’s hockey team played their last regular home game of the season over the weekend. On Friday night, the Black Bears fell to Boston University 5-1 and locked themselves into last place in the Hockey East standings after what was a forgettable regular season campaign. In the preseason polls for Hockey East, UMaine was picked to finish second to last, only ahead of Vermont. Well, the polls got the bottom two right, just in the wrong order.
By Saturday, UMaine couldn’t change their position in Hockey East, but the game was still important to play for the seniors. For about one third of the dressed lineup on Saturday, it was the last home game of their UMaine hockey careers. These players have dealt with a lot throughout their time as college athletes leading up to senior night, including a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic death of beloved head coach Red Gendron in the spring of 2021, so this game was a chance for them to end on a high.
The Black Bears energy and effort was high, and this led to them scoring the opening goal. Eight minutes into the game third-year forward AJ Drobot’s one timer found the back of the net, setting the tone for the rest of the night and putting Maine up 1-0. From that point on, it was UMaine’s game to lose.
UMaine went on to score three more goals in the first period, all happening within one minute and 7 seconds of each other. Seeing the Black Bears’ offense light it up on senior night was inspiring, as scoring has often been a struggle for the team, but the team’s offense on Saturday night was finding a gear not seen all year.
“Finally got that effort, like that special effort that we’ve been looking for all year, and when they do that anything is possible, including something like that,” Barr said. “[I’m] happy for the [graduating players] going out that way.”
The graduating students accounted for three goals in the game, the first coming early in the second period from fourth-year forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup. Schmidt-Svejstrup pick-pocketed the BU goalie who did not sense his presence behind the net and wrapped it to put UMaine up 5-0.
“I thought it was a good night, but getting the win and proving that we can beat a very very good team, a hot team, is pretty important going into playoffs,” Schmidt-Svejstrup said.
He went on to tally three assists following his goal and led the team in points on the night with four.
Fourth-year forward Grant Hebert and fifth-year forward Keenan Suthers were the other two graduating players to score. Hebert’s goal came after an interception by third-year forward Matthew Fawcett on an attempted zone exit by BU, which led to second-year forward Donovan Houle setting up Hebert for the one timer which found the back of net to make the score 6-0. Suthers’ goal came in the third period when a pinpoint wrist shot on the power play beat the BU goalie top shelf for the Black Bears’ eighth and final goal.
When the dust settled the score read 8-1, with UMaine the victors. Despite the seniors getting the majority of attention, and deservingly so, third-year goalie Matthew Thiessen quietly picked up a notable achievement, his first collegiate win. Stopping 32 of 33 shots against, Thiessen was great. The lone goal against Thiessen was a lacrosse style highlight reel goal by BU third-year forward Wilmer Skoog. It was a long awaited win for Thiessen, as it was his twentieth appearance in net for UMaine.
“I wish it came a lot sooner,” Thiessen joked after the game. “But it is what it is, and now [we’ll just try to keep moving forward and focus on playoffs.”
That being said, UMaine now enters the Hockey East playoffs. Although unlikely, UMaine could carry momentum from this win and go on a playoff run. The first step towards a miracle-like run at the Hockey East title comes on the road on Wednesday night at Merrimack College at 7 p.m.
“Last time we played them they gave it to us pretty good, but we’re a whole different team now then we were then, so I’m pretty excited,” UMaine leading scorer second-year forward Lynden Breen commented on the opportunity to face Merrimack.
“We have something to prove in that rink,” Schmidt-Svejstrup said, referring to the lone trip to Merrimack this season where UMaine was beaten handedly 5-0 in early February.