The University of Maine men’s hockey team jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals 1:05 apart from Jakub Sirota and Tim Doherty but it wasn’t enough as UMaine’s road troubles continued on Wednesday night.
The University of Connecticut scored three unanswered goals, including the game-winner by Vladislav Firstov 6:52 into the third period, to deal the Black Bears their sixth consecutive Hockey East road loss, 3-2, at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
It was UMaine’s fourth consecutive loss on the road overall. The Black Bears, 0-4-1 in their last five road contests, have managed a meager six goals in that span.
UMaine is averaging just 1.87 goals in league play and only Vermont has scored fewer (1.80) in the 11-team conference.
The Black Bears (10-9-4 overall, 4-7-2 HE) have now scored two goals or less in 15 of their 22 games. UMaine is 1-7-1 in conference road games.
UMaine went into the game with a three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1) but two of those games were in Orono and the other was in Portland.
“We played a real good hockey game but came up on the wrong end [of the score],” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “We had all kinds of chances but the puck wouldn’t go in.
The loss could be even more costly because junior left wing Eduards Tralmaks, the team’s leading goal scorer with 11, suffered an injury in the first period. He did return to play later in the period but did not play in the second and third periods.
Gendron wouldn’t comment on the extent of Tralmaks’ injury.
UConn (8-10-4 overall, 5-7-2 HE) snapped a four-game losing streak.
UConn moved past UMaine into seventh place with the win. UMaine is tied for the eighth and final Hockey East playoff position with New Hampshire but UNH has played three fewer games.
Sophomore defenseman Jakub Sirota’s first goal of the season, a power-play tally on a shot from the point, and senior center Tim Doherty’s 10th goal staked the Black Bears to a 2-0 lead.
Doherty scored with a backhander while he was on one knee.
Ben Poisson and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup assisted on the Sirota goal and Tralmaks and Mich Fossier picked up the assists on the Doherty score.
Carter Turnbull cut the lead in half with 1:04 left in the first period when he tracked down his own rebound and swatted it home for his seventh.
Alexander Payusov tied it 3:25 into the second period with his fifth goal when Jachym Kondelik intercepted an errant clear by UMaine defenseman Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi and fed him in front.
Firstov broke the deadlock when after he was set up nicely by Jonny Evans and Ruslan Iskhakov. Firstov burst in on Swayman and lifted a backhander past him for his seventh of the season and second game-winner.
“The bottom line was we didn’t score enough goals and we gave up too many to win the game. It’s as simple as that,” Gendron said.
UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka, who entered the game ranked just 68th in the nation in goals-against average (3.52) and 69th in save percentage (.886), finished with 37 saves while Swayman made 23.
UMaine doesn’t play again until Jan. 24 when it visits Boston College for the first of two games.
UConn plays a two-game set against UMaine in Orono on Feb. 14 and 15.