The University of Maine men’s hockey team, held scoreless last weekend, erupted against the University of Alaska Anchorage on Friday night.
Two second-period goals by junior left wing Eduards Tralmaks, sandwiching one by sophomore defenseman Simon Butala, broke the game open and led the Black Bears to a 7-1 victory at Alfond Arena.
UMaine is now 1-1 overall, while it was Alaska Anchorage’s opener. The teams play again Saturday night at 7.
The Black Bears lost 7-0 to Providence and 5-0 in an exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick last weekend.
UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman finished with 20 saves, while UAA’s Kristian Stead wound up with 31 stops.
UMaine reached the seven-goal mark just once last season, in a 7-2 win at Boston College on Jan. 16. The Seawolves allowed more than six goals only once last season, a 10-2 loss to Colorado College on Oct. 6.
J.D. Greenway and Tim Doherty scored 3:11 apart early in the first period to stake the Black Bears to a 2-0 lead before Alex Frye halved the lead with 7:15 left in the period for the Seawolves.
Following the three-goal outburst in the second period, Adam Dawe and Doherty added third-period, power-play goals.
“We simplified the game,” senior center Doherty said. “We got pucks and bodies to the net.”
“We played to our identity,” said UMaine coach Red Gendron. “That’s it.”
In addition to attacking the net, Gendron said his team played much better defensively and managed the puck better.
“We were chipping the puck around their defensemen and creating foot races,” he said.
Tralmak’s first goal came 7:34 into the middle period. He sliced across the slot and tipped Cam Spicer’s shot from the right point past Stead.
Butala’s first collegiate goal came 4:23 later.
UMaine had a 2-on-1, and Butala joined the rush to make it a 3-on-1. Ryan Smith wheeled a back-handed pass across the middle of the slot, and Butala chipped a one-timer between Stead’s pads.
Tralmaks, whose eight goals last season is the second most among this season’s returnees, made it 5-1 off a Mitch Fossier feed.
Fossier was at the outer half of the right faceoff circle and sent a low pass to the middle that carried through a bunch of players and slipped into the net off Tralmaks’ skate.
UMaine carried the play in the first period and outshot the Seawolves 10-5, although they had 4:36 of power-play time, while the visitors did not receive an opportunity with the man advantage.
University of Wisconsin transfer Greenway opened the scoring just 1:14 into the game when he took a pass from Tralmaks at the point, maneuvered his 6-foot-5, 212-pound frame cleverly down the slot and pulled the puck to his backhand before flipping it over Stead’s glove.
“Their guy bit when I faked a shot [at the point] and I saw the right side of the ice open,” said Greenway. “It’s an honor to score the first goal of the season.”
Doherty made it 2-0 by chasing down a loose puck behind the net, wheeling out of the corner to the left of Stead, and firing a wrister from the right faceoff dot through a maze of players and past the glove of Stead into the short-side corner.
Doherty said he saw one of the UAA defenseman was caught out of position so he had plenty of open space. He also noticed he had two teammates parked in front of the net so he took a wrist shot looking for a deflection or a rebound.
Frye converted a pass from Tanner Schachle with a one-timer from the high slot that hit Greenway and knuckled over Swayman’s glove.
In the third period, Dawe roofed an Emil Westerlund pass from 14 feet away, and then Dawe fed Doherty for a 17-foot wrister.
“We funnelled pucks to the net all night. They don’t ask how, they ask how many [go in],” Dawe said.
Dawe also said they devoted a lot of practice time finding open men and making short passes to generate transition opportunities.
UMaine did a thorough job generating back pressure which prevented the Seawolves from generating odd-man rushes and getting open looks from the high slot.
Doherty said UMaine knew Alaska Anchorage had a long trip and was playing its first game of the season so they wanted to set the tone early and that’s what they did with the quick goals.
“Maine did a nice job taking advantage of our defensive breakdowns. They did a nice job off the rush,” second-year Seawolves coach Matt Curley said. “They tracked pucks and forced errors that led to opportunities. We were a little slow.”
He added that Maine had a good bounceback performance after last weekend.
Tralmaks and Doherty each had an assist to go with their two goals. Emil Westerlund registered three assists and Fossier provided two. Spicer, Dawe and Greenway had an assist apiece.