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Black Bears Men’s Hockey Punches Ticket to Hockey East Semifinals

Roaring crowds filled the stands on Saturday at the Alfond Arena, marking a night that will be remembered in the history books of college hockey. In a quarterfinal matchup of the Hockey East playoffs, the University of Maine Black Bears hosted their arch-rival, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. During the regular season, the Wildcats took two out of the three matchups. With a trip to TD Garden on the line, the rivals were ready to leave everything they had on the ice. 

The second the puck dropped, the teams got physical. Bodies were flying around the ice without a penalty being called, setting the tone for the remainder of the game. Halfway through the first period, Wildcats’ first-year forward Ryan Conmy hit the post of the Black Bear net, but Maine’s goaltender, first-year player Albin Boija, corralled a rebound, eliminating the scoring chance. Both teams did well protecting their nets, leaving a goalless first period. New Hampshire had a slight advantage in puck control in the first period, but it was a far different story in the second.

Just under a minute into the second period, on passes from first-year forward Bradly Nadeau and third-year forward Nolan Renwick, first-year forward Josh Nadeau scored Maine’s first goal, sending the Alfond Arena into a frenzy. Second-year defenseman for New Hampshire Kristaps Skrastins took a slashing penalty less than four minutes later. The Black Bears capitalized on the opportunity, as fifth-year forward Ben Possion found a loose puck in the middle of a skirmish, burying it in the back of the net and gaining Maine a 2-0 lead. Things then steadily declined for New Hampshire. Bradley Nadeau joined the goal scorer sheet when he finished a goal on a gorgeous tic-tac-toe setup from Renwick and his brother, Josh Nadeau. Maine quickly captured a 3-0 lead heading into the intermission. Momentum was clearly increasing, and fans were ecstatic. 

Playoff hockey can be crazy. One moment, everything is going great, and the next moment, it’s not. There is no such thing as a safe lead. This was not a problem for the Black Bears going into the third period, who did not withhold the pressure they built up in the first two periods. The Black Bears controlled the puck, dominated the physical aspect of the game, and put the Wildcats under constant force. In the first half of the third period, Maine shut down every potential opportunity UNH found. Third-year defenseman David Breazeale led the Black Bear defensive unit and blocked numerous shots on opportunities for the Wildcats. With 11 minutes left in the game, Bradly Nadeau scored his second goal of the game, once again assisted by Renwick and his brother Josh Nadeau. 

With TD Garden looming in the distance, the Black Bears refused to stop. Black Bear fans went wild with two minutes left in the game, as Josh Nadeau netted his second goal of the day, giving the Nadeau brothers a total of four goals for the evening. Boija stopped all 18 shots that came his way. 


Maine will travel to TD Garden in Boston next Friday, March 22, to take on Boston University. The winner against BU will face the winner of the University of Massachusetts vs. Boston College game on Saturday, March 23. Go, Black Bears!

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