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Men’s hockey continues to soar, going 3-1-1 over winter break

5 Maine – 1 AIC

On Sunday Dec. 29, the University of Maine men’s hockey team defeated the American International College Yellow Jackets 5-1 at Alfond Arena. Maine quickly jumped out to a controlling lead, as third-year defender Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi tore through the Yellow Jackets’ defense early, and the Black Bears continued to pour on the offense. Fourth-year forward Patrick Shea netted two goals of his own to round out the first period, giving the Black Bears a 3-0 lead they would not look back from. The Yellow Jackets scored their lone goal in the second period to tighten Maine’s lead to 3-1. However, they were not long for the contest. The fourth goal of the game for Maine came off the stick of first-year forward AJ Drobot, followed shortly thereafter by fourth-year forward Mitchell Fossier burying the Yellow Jackets with an unassisted tally of his own, giving Maine a firm 5-1 lead they would not relinquish. Third-year goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 42 saves on 43 shots while Maine generated 49 shots on goal. 

2 Maine  – 2 Omaha (OT)

The University of Maine men’s hockey team welcomed the University of Nebraska at Omaha to Alfond Arena on Friday, Jan. 3. The two teams skated to a 2-2 tie battling to the end. Omaha’s third-year forward Kevin Conley scored the lone goal in the first period to take a 1-0 lead over the Black Bears. Maine skating with a man up for five minutes tied the contest at one goal apiece. Fourth-year forward Tim Doherty collected a pass from first-year defenseman Levi Kleiboer and buried the puck in the back of the net. Omaha extended their lead to 2-1 in the second period. Doherty once again scored for the Black Bears to tie the game at 2-2 in the third period. Both teams battled through the overtime period but could not find the back of the net. Swayman finished with 41 saves on 43 shots.

3 Maine – 2 Omaha 

The second game of the weekend series ended with Maine picking up the 3-2 win over Omaha at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine on Saturday, Jan. 4. Omaha picked up the first goal of the game and the lone goal in the first period once more, as second-year defenseman John Schuldt scored from the slot off an assist from Conley. Maine came out in the second period and tied the game at one when fourth-year forward Samuel Rennaker exited the penalty box. Third-year forward Eduards Tralmaks gave Maine the 2-1 lead in the second period when Doherty found him streaking down the far side of the ice. Tralmaks gathered the puck and buried it behind Omaha’s goaltender. Omaha tied the game up early in the third period. Maine found the back of the net with just two minutes left when Tralmaks tipped in the game-winning goal. Swayman finished with 32 saves and Maine recorded 27 shots on goal.

2 Maine – 0 USA 

Maine defeated the USA Developmental Team 2-0 on Saturday, Jan. 11, behind first-year goaltender Matthew Thiessen’s first career shutout. On the powerplay midway through the first period, Tim Doherty buried the puck to collect his third goal in two games, giving Maine the 1-0 lead. In the second period, Maine extended the lead to 2-0 as fourth-year forward Ryan Smith ripped a shot off of the pipe and into the net. Thiessen finished with 30 saves for the Black Bears.

2 Maine – 3 UConn

Maine fell to the University of Connecticut 3-2 in a Hockey East battle in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Maine picked up the early lead as second-year defenseman Jakub Sirota scored his first goal of the year and the first of the night for the Black Bears. For the third game in a row, Doherty found the back of the net and extended the Maine lead to 2-0. Connecticut found some momentum at the end of the second period as they scored their first goal of the night. A turnover behind Swayman immediately turned into a Huskies’ goal. The poor puck control turned into two quick passes and another Huskies’ goal. In the third period, the Huskies took the lead and carried it to the end of the game. Swayman collected 23 saves on the night as Maine fell to 10-9-4 on the season.

4 Maine – 3 Boston College (OT)

The University of Maine men’s hockey team defeated the fourth-ranked Boston College Eagles 4-3 in overtime on Friday evening at the Conte Forum. The first period started off with great offensive trades and shots on goal from both teams, but the intensity didn’t pick up until there was just over five minutes left in the period. Eagles’ third-year defenseman Ben Finkelstein ripped a one-timer off the pads of Swayman, where first-year forward Mike Hardman collected the rebound and scored over the recovering goaltender. Boston College extended its lead to 2-0, as first-year forward Alex Newhook dropped a pass to the right goal line for first-year forward Matt Boldy, who spun a no-look return feed for Newhook to one-time inside the left post.

Maine came out of the first intermission firing, scoring after just 27 seconds into the second period. Doherty finished a 2-on-1 with Fossier, one-timing a forehand effort past first-year goaltender Spencer Knight’s outstretched glove from the right-wing circle. Maine tied the game 2-2 just four minutes later when Fossier saucered a lateral feed past the stick of an Eagles’ defenseman in a 2-on-1, freeing up Drobot for a wrist shot inside the left post to tie the game. 

The third goal of the second period for the Black Bears came on the powerplay with a little over three minutes to play. Second-year forward Adam Dawe centered a pass to Fossier just inside the crease and he tipped the puck into the right corner to give Maine the 3-2 lead. Just two minutes into the third period, Boston College tied the game back at 3-3 when third-year forward Logan Hutsko picked out the glove side corner through a screen. Each team fought to the end of the third but neither team could get one past the keepers. With under three minutes left in overtime, Tralmaks won a battle below the goal line and worked the puck to the front for Doherty, who slipped a backhand inside the right post glove side to give Maine the upset win over the Eagles. Swayman finished with 37 saves on 40 shots while Maine tallied 25 shots on goal. 

3 Maine – 2 Boston College (OT)

Completing their sweep of the Eagles, Maine hosted Boston College for a second night and once again forced overtime, but Maine found a way to skate off victorious. 

Penalties paved the way to scoring for both teams, with the first three goals of the contest all coming on the power play. With Doherty sitting for a high sticking penalty, the Eagles soared into the Black Bears’ zone. Fourth-year forward Julius Mattila buried the puck behind Swayman, taking the early lead for Boston. Less than a minute later, fourth-year defenseman Jesper Mattila accrued a cross-checking penalty and was tossed in the sin bin, sending the Black Bears on the attack with the man advantage. Completely controlling the Eagles’ defensive zone, the Black Bears shuffled the puck around until it ended up on the open stick of Tiuraniemi, who fired a clapper through traffic in front of the net. By some means, the puck slipped through all the commotion and past the tender, leveling the score at one apiece.

Through the contest, the Black Bears gave Boston College eight power-play attempts, compared to the three that they had themselves. However, the efficiency of Maine in convert on those power plays was evident, as Maine scored two goals on their three attempts while Boston College scored one goal on eight attempts. 

In the second period, Maine continued to make costly decisions, including a teamwide penalty for having too many men on the ice and a delay of game penalty on Shea. Maine would continue to hold the line defensively, regardless of their numbers disadvantage, and Swayman stood tall as a stalwart between the posts. A minor holding penalty against Eagles third-year forward Aapeli Rasanen sent Maine on the attack once more, and Fossier buried a clapper off of an assist from Doherty and Dawe deep in the Eagles’ zone. Maine held the 2-1 advantage as both teams skated into the intermission, following an additional series of power plays netting zero goals for either squad.

Skating back on and into the third, Maine held their own on two more power-play opportunities handed to their opponents, but couldn’t stop the full strength Eagles midway through the third. Skating with the puck, fourth-year forward Ron Greco decided to fire a bullet from just inside the blue line and found the sweet spot just over Swayman’s stick-side shoulder. With neither team able to force the advantage, the contest went into the extra period once more. 

Not needing a penalty advantage to clean up loose ends, Shea forced a turnover in the Eagles’ zone and passed the puck out to Doherty. Doherty flipped around to the front side of the net and fed a sneaking Shea on the goaltender’s opposing side for the tip-in goal. The victory extends Maine’s active win streak against Boston College to five games, while additionally improving the Black Bears’ record to 12-9-4.

Maine will next take the ice at home against the Merrimack Warriors on Friday, Jan. 29 and Saturday, Jan. 30 with the puck dropping at 7 pm.

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