ORONO, Maine — University of Maine freshman goaltender Jeremy Swayman has been a model of consistency of late and hopes to continue that trend or improve this weekend when the Black Bears entertain the University of Vermont for a two-game Hockey East series.
The Black Bears are 5-7 overall, 3-4 in Hockey East, while the Catamounts are 4-9-1 and 1-5-1, respectively. The games are at 7 p.m. on Friday and 5 on Saturday.
Swayman had allowed two goals in each of his last five starts and has an impressive .939 save percentage during that stretch.
His .921 save percentage on the season is 15th best in the country and third among the nation’s freshmen. His overall goals-against average of 2.51 is seventh best among freshmen and 27th overall.
“He has been playing unbelievable,” said UMaine sophomore center and co-captain Chase Pearson. “He has been the backbone of our team. When you have a goalie playing like that, it builds our confidence.”
“He is definitely athletic and he is committed. He works hard every day and it has paid off for him,” said sophomore right wing Patrick Shea. “He’s definitely mentally prepared for every game.”
Swayman said he has been happy with the way he has played “but I’m never satisfied.”
The 6-foot-2, 187-pound native of Anchorage, Alaska, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins this past summer, the 111th overall selection.
He gave up four goals in his season’s debut, a 5-1 loss to the University of Connecticut, and gave up three in the 6-3 win over Miami on Oct. 21.
He has allowed 10 goals in his last five starts with 155 saves.
Swayman said one of the things he has focused on is his off-ice preparedness with associate director of sports performance Matt Murray and assistant coach/goalie coach Alfie Michaud, a former UMaine goalie.
“Matt Murray has helped us out and working with Alfie Michaud has been really beneficial to my game. He helps me read shooters and read plays. I can’t thank him enough,” said Swayman.
Swayman said he gets a “little more comfortable” with each game after making the adjustment from junior hockey.
He played for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League where he was 7-18-3 with a 2.90 GAA and a .914 save percentage last season.
He had been sharing the goaltending with junior Rob McGovern but has won the starting job and played in both games in the Friendship Four Tournament in Northern Ireland last weekend, making 52 saves and allowing four goals in a 3-0 loss to Providence and a 4-2 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York.
“I just want to keep getting better,” said Swayman. “We’re prepared for a tough battle this weekend. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win.”
Vermont swept the Black Bears out of the Hockey East playoffs last season.
“We have a bone to pick with them,” said Pearson, who will be looking to break out of a 14-game goal scoring drought.
“It kind of gets into your head but, at the same time, it’s hockey and stuff like this happens. There are lots of ups and downs within the game,” said Pearson, who has eight assists and is tied for second on the team in scoring.
“I’m not worried about my production. If I keep working hard and doing things the right way, the goals are going to come,” added Pearson, who had 14 goals a year ago, second only to Blaine Byron’s 18.
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