ORONO, Maine — With Jeremy Swayman playing for the United States in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Tournament in Buffalo, New York, the University of Maine men’s hockey team is without its starting goalie for this weekend’s series at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Junior Rob McGovern and sophomore Stephen Mundinger will try to extend the Black Bears’ three-game winning streak and five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1).
UMaine (8-7-1) beat RPI (3-11-3) 4-2 on Nov. 25 in the third-place game at the Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The teams play at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
McGovern and Mundinger haven’t played since Nov. 18 at Portland in a 7-0 loss to Boston University.
McGovern allowed six goals on 31 shots over 51 minutes, 22 seconds, before Mundinger finished up, stopping three of four shots over the final 8:38.
McGovern (1-4, 4.47 goals-against average, .875 save percentage) has played in five games this season and Mundinger appeared in only the BU game.
“I’m very confident in our goalies,” said UMaine head coach Red Gendron. “They have practiced well. It’s an opportunity. That’s how we look at it and that’s how they will look at it. It’s up to them to seize it.”
McGovern shared the goaltending with freshman Swayman at the beginning of the season and won his first start (4-3 in overtime) over Connecticut, making 35 saves.
He then allowed six goals on 35 shots through two periods of a 7-5 loss to Miami of Ohio; surrendered two on 29 shots in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota Duluth and gave up three on 27 shots in a 3-2 setback at UMass Lowell before his start vs. BU.
Both goalies are confident they can get the job done.
“It’s tough because I haven’t played in a while but it’s not like I’ve never played a game before. At the end of the day, it’s just hockey,” said the 6-foot-4 McGovern, who has 54 career games under his belt and has a 12-33-6 record with a 3.05 GAA and a .906 save percentage.
“Everyone wants to play. Jeremy has played well for us so you really can’t get too upset about that,” said McGovern.
“This is my third year and it’s Stephen’s second year. We’ve both been through it before.”
“It will be a good opportunity for us,” said Mundinger who has appeared in four career games with a 3.77 GAA and a .870 save percentage spanning 47:48.
“I’m very confident. I’m ready. Whenever my name is called, I’ll be ready to play well,” said the 6-foot-8 goaltender.
Mundinger said they have benefitted from having former UMaine and NHL goalie Alfie Michaud as a full-time assistant this year after he was a volunteer assistant last season.
“Alfie has been awesome. We have goalie sessions before almost every practice and we’ve had more one-on-one time. He’s here more and it has been a lot better,” said Mundinger.
Sophomore center and co-captain Chase Pearson said he doesn’t consider them to be fill-in goalies.
“Both of them are legitimate NCAA Division I goalies. Regardless of who’s in net, we’re going to play the same way … with confidence. We’re going to rely on them and they’re going to rely on us,” said Pearson.
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