The University of Maine men’s hockey team continued its impressive streak of success on the road on Saturday night.
Sophomore center and co-captain Chase Pearson scored a pair of goals and freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman made 28 saves as the Black Bears completed a weekend sweep of the University of Massachusetts with a 3-2 victory at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Black Bears, who also beat UMass 3-2 Friday night, are now 8-2-1 in their last 11 road games with the only two losses being 5-3 setbacks to No. 8 Northeastern.
UMaine extended its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) and is now 14-9-4 overall, 8-6-3 in Hockey East.
The Black Bears are in sixth place but have pulled to within one point of Boston University and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, both of which are tied for fourth. UMaine has played one fewer game than both teams.
UMass, which had won its previous four home games and five of its last six entering the series, is now 11-14-1 overall, 5-10-1 in Hockey East.
Pearson staked the Black Bears to a lead just 18 seconds into the game with his fifth goal of the season, but Mitch Chaffee equalized at the 14:45 mark of the period with his 10th.
Freshman left wing Emil Westerlund gave UMaine the lead for good with his sixth at the 8:05 mark of the second period and Pearson extended the lead 5:14 later.
John Leonard’s seventh of the season, coming on the power play, pulled the Minutemen within one with five minutes remaining in the third period but the Black Bears hung on for the win.
“I’m very happy to get four points from a very, very tough opponent,” UMaine coach Red Gendron said. “We had to work very hard to get those four points this weekend. They’re an up-and-coming team.
“It was a good win tonight. Any time you can get a sweep it’s great, especially on the road against a team like UMass,” Gendron added. “UMass worked their tails off for 120 minutes.”
Pearson opened the scoring during a scramble in front of the UMass net. It was unassisted.
“There was a scramble off the faceoff and the puck found me in the slot,” Pearson said. “I honestly just took a whack at it and it went five-hole.
“It was nice to get a start like that. It’s about time one of those went in for me,” Pearson added.
Freshman right wing Chaffee drew the Minutemen level with a backhander off a pass from Oliver Chau, who skated to the bottom of the right circle before finding him at the far post.
Westerlund regained the lead for UMaine in the second period when he beat UMass goalie Ryan Wischow to the upper left corner from the faceoff dot.
Pearson made it 3-1 with assists from Mitch Fossier and Eduards Tralmaks.
“Mitch made a real nice play, so did [Tralmaks],” Pearson said. “They worked the grinds a little bit. I found an opening and went to the net and Mitch hit me back door. It doesn’t get much easier than a tap-in like that.
“It was nice to get the game-winner but, ultimately, it was a good win for our team,” said Pearson, who now has six goals in his last 10 games after snapping a 19-game goalless drought dating back to last season.
“We made some big plays on those (second-period) goals and we could have had a few more but the UMass goalie made a couple of 10-bell (high-percentage) saves including two off Brendan Robbins that were spectacular. Jeremy Swayman played real well, too,” Gendron said.
Freshman Leonard fired a one-timer past Swayman with the man-advantage later in the third period but that was the only one of the 12 third-period shots that beat Swayman.
Wischow finished with 23 saves for UMass.
Chaffee had an assist to go with his goal and Mario Ferraro had two assists for UMass.
UMass was without injured freshman defenseman Cale Makar, a first-round draft pick of Colorado who is considered “one of the best players in the league” by Gendron.
UMaine will host Merrimack (7-15-4, 4-11-2) 7:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.
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