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Black Bears find rhythm against Boston

The University of Maine Black Bears (4-6-0, 3-3-0) squared off against Hockey East rivals No. 18 Boston University (BU) Terriers (6-7-1, 4-4-1) at Alfond Arena on Friday, Nov. 17. The Black Bears came out victorious for the first time since 2004 over the Terriers 5-2. Great goaltending by first-year Jeremy Swayman was the key to the game, as he stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced. On the offensive end UMaine had five different goal scorers in an impressive victor.

The Terriers drew first blood 7:50 minutes into the first period off a rebound from a shot fired at Swayman by first-year forward Logan Cockerill. The rebound was collected by first-year defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo, who netted his first career goal for BU and gave them the early 1-0 lead.

Maine would respond in great fashion scoring three unanswered goals against the Terriers and igniting the student section, who let redshirt second-year goaltender Max Prawdzik of BU hear it all night.

The scoring started when first-year forward Eduards Tralmaks held possession along the boards in the BU zone. Tralmaks sent a pass to first-year defenseman Brady Keeper who found the stick of third-year defenseman Rob Michel at the top of the left faceoff circle. Michel returned the puck to Keeper who loaded up and shot a fire cracker past Max Prawdzik. This was Keeper’s third goal of the season while Tralmaks and Michel got their third and fifth assists.

Fourth-year forward Canon Pieper had the goal of the night and also broke a 1-1 tie just 4:37 into the second. A shot blocked at the top of the Maine zone by first-year forward Emil Westerlund found its way to Pieper, who turned on the jets. Pieper found himself one on one with Prawdzik as the Alfond fans got out of their seats to watch him beat the Terrier’s goaltender high, blocker side for the 2-1 lead.

“That was a huge goal. It gives you a big lift when you get a breakaway and you finish it. It’s always a letdown when you don’t,” UMaine Head Coach Red Gendron said.

Maine would continue to find a rhythm on offense extending the lead to 3-1 just under three minutes later. Prawdzik controlled the puck behind the BU net before trying to dump the puck down ice. Second-year forward Brendan Robbins found himself in the right place at the right time and picked off the puck and sent it back in behind the net to Pieper. Pieper sent a pass out in front of the net where Robbins was waiting to bury Maine’s third goal of the game.

Cockerill wouldn’t be denied as he cut into the Black Bears’ lead 3-2 with 11 minutes remaining in the second period, this was his first career goal off a fancy backhanded pass from first year forward Shane Bowers who tallied the assist.

The Terriers amped up the pressure and seemed to control the game — they came close to tying it a few times but Swayman came up big time after time for Maine. After Kotkansalo rattled a shot off the iron, the first-year made a veteran pad save on a follow up attempt by fourth-year forward Drew Melanson, swinging his legs high into the air to knock the puck down and keep Maine in the lead.

“I got it with the inside of my blocker. I didn’t see it until the last second. It was a desperation move,” Swayman said of his save.

Swayman’s play lit a fire under the Black Bears as the tides turned along with the momentum. Second-year forward Patrick Shea grabbed the puck behind the BU net prior to passing it out in front. Second-year defender Tim Doherty deflected the puck to second-year defender Patrick Holway whose ripped a shot that was saved. However, Holway jumped on the rebound before snipping the top shelf to give Maine the 4-2 lead with 12:15 remaining in contest.

Swayman continued to hold his own between the pipes for UMaine, making 18 saves alone in the closing moments of the game. Shea would put the nail in the coffin when he chipped the puck on the boards, twice, keeping the play alive before sending the shot towards an empty BU net with 1:52 left to put Maine up 5-2.

“I didn’t like how we played in the second period but I thought we were pretty solid in the third period. We got two goals from defensemen and Swayman was terrific,” Gendron said of his team’s play in the end

BU held the final edge in shots on goal (42-28) while Swayman finished with 40 saves to Prawdzik’s 23. The Black Bears were 1-3 on the power play while the Terriers were 0- 6.

Maine Hockey Splits Series With BU

UMaine split a two game series with Boston University. The Black Bears failed to complete the sweep after getting shutout on Saturday. BU scored seven unanswered goals in the contest. The Terriers shut out their opponents for the third time in six games. Six different players scored goals for the Terriers, including Bowers who scored a pair of goals.

Maine’s third-year goaltender Rob McGovern recorded 25 saves in the loss. He kept the game close by only allowing one goal in the first period. BU’s offense was dominant as they went on to score three goals in each remaining period. Boston’s second-year goalie Jake Oettinger collected 30 saves in his second shutout performance of the season. The Minnesota native started last year in goal for the Terriers and posted an impressive 21-11-3 record in the 2016 season. Maine’s second-year goalie Stephen Mundinger made his first appearance of the season in goal. Relieving Mcgovern, the 6-foot-8 sophomore from New York recorded three saves and allowed a goal in the match.

BU second-year defenseman Chad Krys assisted three goals in the game. This feat is a career best for the Connecticut native. Bowers scored the first goal and sixth goal in the game. Bowers’ first score occurred 1:26 into the first period. It was assisted by second-year forward Patrick Harper and Cockerill. BU third-year forward Jordan Greenway scored the second goal on assists from Krys and first-year forward Hank Crone. Crone would go on to score the next goal assisted by Krys and second-year defenseman Dante Fabbro.

The game wasn’t a total bust for the Black Bears as they won more faceoffs than the opposition. UMaine took 41 of the faceoffs while BU won 35. UMaine fourth-year forward Cedric Lacroix won 12 of his 18 face off opportunities. Maine second-year forward Chase Pearson won 12 of his 22 faceoffs in the matchup. Shea of Marshfield, Massachusetts efficiently won 5 of his 7 faceoffs for the Black Bears.

The Black Bears return to action Friday, Nov. 24 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They will face Providence College, effectively kicking off the 2017 Northern Irish Connections Friendship Four Tournament. Boston University will go on to play Cornell on Saturday, Nov. 25. Puck-drop is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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