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Black Bears sweep enemy number one off their skates with two victories over the weekend. Photo by Matt Lavoie

Maine sweeps rival New Hampshire in highly anticipated Border Battle

The University of Maine men’s ice hockey team swept rival team University of New Hampshire Wildcats in a weekend series, 3-1 on Friday, Nov. 15 and 2-1 in overtime on Saturday, Nov. 16 in front of an electric Alfond Arena crowd. 

In the first game of the series, New Hampshire struck first, as third-year forward Kohei Sato collected a pass low in the left faceoff circle and hit a quick wrist shot over Maine’s third-year goaltender Jeremy Swayman, giving the Wildcats the early lead. Fourth-year forward Liam Blackburn was credited with the assist. The scored stayed the same as they went into the first intermission after a back and forth end to the period.

In the second period, the Black Bears started to gain some momentum with some shorthanded opportunities but struggled to find the back of the net. Finally, Maine’s first-year forward AJ Drobot dumped a puck in from center ice with a clapper, which bounced over the Wildcats’ third-year goaltender Mike Robinson’s pads. With 21 seconds left in the second period, the Black Bears broke the 1-1 tie, as fourth-year forward Mitchell Fossier received a pass from first-year defenseman Adrien Bisson at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Fossier whipped a pass through the slot to third-year forward Eduards Tralmaks, who buried the one-time clapper over Robinson. 

Early in the third period, holding a one-man advantage, Maine began working their way through New Hampshire’s defensive zone. First-year forward Ben Poisson fished the puck out from behind the New Hampshire net and sent it along the boards to second-year defenseman Jakub Sirota. Sirota settled on the blue line before angling a pass down to second-year forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup, who rifled his seventh goal of the year into the back of the net, extending Maine’s lead to 3-1. 

Maine held strong over the final 16 minutes, including shutting the Wildcats down for almost three minutes with the extra skater, to secure the 3-1 victory. Maine’s third-year goaltender Jeremy Swayman had 30 saves on the night to help the Black Bears improve to 6-3-2 and 3-2-2 in Hockey East play. 

The Saturday night contest was just as exciting as Maine took home the overtime win to complete the weekend sweep.

Through a scoreless first period, both goaltenders were true stalwarts for their teams, with Swayman tallying 11 saves and Robinson tallying 10. With just under ten minutes to go in the second period, first-year forward Kalle Eriksson found teammate second-year forward Angus Crookshank wide open in front of Swayman, and Crookshank swiftly buried the puck on the power play.

The man advantage gave New Hampshire a one-goal lead late in the second period. Maine was trailing 1-0 going into the second intermission. 

Pulling Swayman, head coach Red Gendron elected to go with six attackers on the ice, and his plan paid off. Fourth-year forward Tim Doherty tied the game with 50 seconds left in regulation. Second-year forward Adam Dawe and Fossier were credited with assists. The goal reenergized the struggling Black Bears but saw both teams heading into overtime with the score at 1-1.

Fourth-year forwards Patrick Shea, Ryan Smith and Fossier combined to score the game-winning goal in overtime. Shea, who was left wide open in front of the New Hampshire net, corralled a pass from Shea and decked out Robinson for the game-clinching goal, in addition to his first of the 2019-20 season. Fossier’s assist was the 100th point of his Black Bear career. Swayman ended with 32 saves to help Maine improve to 7-3-2 and 4-2-2 in Hockey East play. Maine will travel to Boston to take on Northeastern Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 pm.

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