|New Hampshire||University of Maine|
ORONO, Maine – Three different players found the back of the net and goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves to push the University of Maine men’s hockey team past the New Hampshire Wildcats, 3-2, on Saturday night at Alfond Arena. The win gives the Black Bears the Hockey East playoff opening round best-of-three series win and sends them into the quarterfinal round to face Providence College next weekend.
Rob Michel finished with three points on three assists while Eduards Tralmaks, Nolan Vesey and Mitchell Fossier had the goals. Fossier added an assist to finish with two points while Brady Keeper added two assists.
Maine had the first two good looks of the first period, with Fossier behind both of them with driving backhands down the right wing but for the second night in a row, it would be the Wildcats that struck first. Max Gildon sent the puck from the hashmarks in his own end into neutral ice where Justin Fregona touched it to Liam Blackburn. Blackburn drove in on Swayman and split the defense across the goal mouth for a backhand.
The Black Bears went on the penalty kill with just over two minutes to play in the period and actually created two dangerous 2-on-1 opportunities but entered the first break down a goal.
In another mirroring of Friday night’s contest, Maine – who once again led in shots on goal in the first period (14-7) – took the momentum from their push at the end of the opening frame and scored just over three minutes into the second period.
After two big slapshots from Brady Keeper created a juicy rebound for Rob Michel in the high slot, the defenseman sent the puck low, towards the right post for Fossier to expertly tip inside the right post.
Swayman’s flurry of saves with five minutes to go in the period proved crucial, as Vesey’s tally with 1:56 on the clock put Maine up 2-1 heading into the second intermission. After Keeper hit Michel behind the net with the puck, Michel started a rush up the right wing before he found Vesey down the left wing. Vesey got to the circle and wristed a shot past Tirone.
The first 17:32 of the third period saw lots of back-and-forth play, with UNH firing away in search of a tying goal. But when the Wildcats were whistled for slashing with 3:23 to play, the Black Bears capitalized a minute later on Eduards Tralmaks 10th goal of the year. For the third time on the night, Michel was the primary assist on the goal as it was his original shot that fell to Tralmaks for two good looks at Tirone before his third went inside the right post.
Tralmaks’ tally would turn out to be the game-winner – as the Wildcats would net an extra-attacker goal with 53 seconds on the clock – and series winner for the Black Bears.
Swayman finished with 27 saves while Tirone made 40. Maine held the final edge in shots on goal at 43-29.
Maine (18-14-4) advances to face Providence next weekend while New Hampshire ends its season at 10-20-6.