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Black Bears Sweep Regular Season Finale

It was a weekend to celebrate for the UMaine men’s hockey as the Black Bears took all six points up for grabs in the final weekend series at Alfond Arena. It wasn’t a dominant performance as the Minutemen from the University of Massachusetts battled the Black Bears to the very end with both of the games being tied with under five minutes to go. Friday night’s win clinched the Black Bears the number three seed in the Hockey East Conference (HEC), arguably the toughest conference in college hockey. They currently await their opponent for next Saturday night’s game at Alfond Arena with three first round matchups on Wednesday. 

On Friday night, the Minutemen jumped out to an early lead just three minutes in on a goal from second year forward Michael Cameron. The Black Bears intensity would pick and tilt the ice in their favor. Late in the first period, that momentum resulted in a game tying goal by first year forward, and first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, Bradly Nadeau. The scoring would come to a halt for a while and with the Black Bears forced to kill off five power plays across the final two periods, first-year goalie Albin Bouya did an amazing job keeping the game knotted at one. A late power play opportunity for Maine would prove to be pivotal as second year forward Thomas Freel pushed the Black Bears ahead 2-1 with just under five minutes remaining. With the Minutemen’s net empty, a 6-5 offensive attack forced Bouya to make a crucial save with just 30 seconds remaining to keep the Black Bears in front and close out the victory. 

Saturday night’s game featured a lot more scoring action. With the Minutemen playing for home ice, and the Black Bears playing for momentum, both teams wanted to close out the regular season well. In the first two periods, six goals were scored, three a side. Fourth-year forward Harrison Scott, first year forward Sully Scholle and first-year forward Josh Nadeau were the goal scorers for the Black Bears who took the game into the second intermission 3-3. The third period was tightly contested as the defense became stronger on both ends. With 77 seconds left in the game, fourth year forward Lynden Breen scored the game winning goal securing the sweep of the Minutemen. After all of the other scores from Hockey East play, let’s take a look at the potential opponents for the Black Bears and how we get there.

For those not familiar, “#1” is referred to as the best team in the regular season by record and  “#11” is the worst regular season record.

Seeds #1 through #5 earned a first round bye from strong regular season records. 

First Round: Wednesday, March 13

#11 University of Massachusetts Lowell @ #6 University of New Hampshire

#10 Merrimack College @ #7 Northeastern University

#9 Vermont University @ #8 University of Connecticut

Second Round: Saturday, March 16

#5 University of Massachusetts @ #4 Providence College

#6/#7/#8/#9 @ #3 University of Maine 

#7/#8/#9/#10 @ #2 Boston University 

#8/#9/#10/#11 @ #1 Boston College

What are all the possibilities and results that impact Maine?

Scenario 1: If the University of New Hampshire defeats UMass Lowell, the Black Bears will host the Wildcats next Saturday. 

Scenario 2: What happens if UNH loses? Then our attention towards Northeastern. If Northeastern is able to defeat Merrimack, the Black Bears will host Northeastern. But remember, this is only if UNH loses.

Scenario 3: Now let’s say chaos ensues and both UNH and Northeastern fall in the first round. The Black Bears would end up hosting the winner of the Vermont – UConn game. While this situation is highly unlikely, anything can happen in the playoffs.

Once the Black Bears opponent is settled, they can firmly lock in on the one team that stands between them and a trip to the Hockey East final four at TD Garden and for the first time since 2012. 

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