University of Maine first-year hockey coach Ben Barr is seeing steady improvement from his Black Bears, but that progress hasn’t produced a win yet. The Black Bears lost 5-3 Saturday night to the University of Nebraska Omaha at Baxter Arena in Omaha.
National Collegiate Hockey Conference team UNO completed the weekend sweep after winning Friday night’s game 4-1.
UNO, ranked 17th in the country and an NCAA Tournament team last season, improved its record to 3-1 while UMaine fell to 0-2.
First-period goals by Chayse Primeau and Kevin Conley sandwiched one by UMaine’s Grant Hebert to give UNO a 2-1 lead.
Hebert is a transfer from Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania and was the Colonials’ third-leading scorer last season with eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 24 games.
Primeau’s goal came on the power play.
UMaine rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the second period on Adam Dawe’s power play goal and an even-strength tally by Brad Morrissey, but Cameron Berg tied it up with a power play goal.
Matt Miller’s shorthanded goal 1:52 into the third period proved to be the game-winner and Kirby Proctor added an insurance goal later in the period.
“The guys played a great game. Everyone played well. We played better than we did on Friday night,” Barr said.
“They just don’t know how to win yet,” Barr said. “There are a lot of positives to build on but there are no moral victories in sports. We’re still a work in progress.”
Miller’s game-winner came off his rush down the right wing.
He was able to get a step on Hebert, cut around him and slice across the top of the crease before tucking a backhander past UMaine sophomore goalie Victor Ostman.
Martin Sundberg and Nolan Krenzen earned assists on the play.
Proctor’s insurance goal came with seven minutes left in regulation.
Tyler Weiss sprinted down the right wing and circled the UMaine net before coming out the other side and spotting the open Proctor at the top right of the faceoff circle.
Proctor gathered in Weiss’ pass, took a few strides and fired a shot past Ostman from just below the faceoff dot.
Primeau had opened the scoring with a one-timer off a Taylor Ward pass, but Hebert tied with a shot off a Tristan Poissant drop pass. David Breazeale also notched an assist.
Brannon McManus and Brandon Scanlin set up Conley for his goal.
Dawe drew UMaine level in the middle period when Jakub Sirota fed him a nice pass. Nolan Renwick also picked up an assist.
Morrissey gave UMaine its first lead of the season. Breazeale and Lynden Breen picked up assists.
Berg knotted it up with the man-advantage after Nolan Sullivan and Weiss set him up.
UNO outshot UMaine 29-27. Ostman and UNO’s Isaiah Saville each made 24 stops.
Saville is a fifth round draft pick of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
“We had a lot of chances. [Saville] made some big saves. We have to bear down more,” said Barr. “Victor wasn’t outstanding but he didn’t play poorly, either.”
Barr said his top line of Ben Poisson between Dawe and Nolan Renwick played very well all weekend, and freshman defenseman Breazeale had an impressive college debut.
Breazeale had two assists on Saturday.
Senior defenseman Sirota also had a solid weekend, Barr said.
And he added that he was encouraged by his power play. UMaine went 1-for-6 with the man advantage..
UNO was 2-for-5 on the power play and also scored the shorthanded goal.
UMaine will be off next weekend before playing a home-opening series against Atlantic Hockey team Sacred Heart of Connecticut on Oct. 22-23 at 7:30 and 5 p.m., respectively.