HAMDEN, Conn. – The University of Maine men’s hockey team got a 45-save performance from Jeremy Swayman while Patrick Sheascored with 24.4 seconds left in the third period and the team ended the first semester of the season by pushing its unbeaten streak to five games with a 5-3 win over Quinnipiac on Saturday night at Frank Perrotti, Jr. Arena.
Swayman had a strong first period once again for the Black Bears, starting off in the first minute with back-to-back-to-back pad saves on Quinnipiac’s attempts from the top of the crease. The Bobcats were eventually able to sneak the first goal past struck for the second night in a row, though, on a wrist shot from Logan Mick right at the top of the right circle off a face-off win from Scott Davidson.
With under three minutes to go in the period, Swayman stood tall once again and made a big point-blank save at the top of the crease before covering the puck to prevent another attempt and then with just seconds on the clock, he denied Tanner MacMaster on a short breakaway.
It was another solid save from Swayman near the midway point of the second period that turned the tides for the Black Bears as Bo Pieper broke down the left circle – reminiscent of the night before – but the freshman flashed the leather for a whistle. Just a minute later, Patrick Holway poked the puck out of the corner up to Westerlund who hit a streaking Robbins up the right wing. After Robbins rushed the ice and fired an initial shot, Westerlund crashed the net and roofed the rebound.
Ryan Smith put Maine on top, 2-1, seven minutes later with his first goal of the season. Lacroix won the face-off back to Brady Keeper and then worked it back-and-forth with the defender before firing a shot that Smith tipped at the top of the crease.
Exactly two minutes after Smith grabbed the lead, Tim Doherty doubled it with Robbins involved once again. Alexis Binner initially found Doherty with a breakout pass and then Doherty and Robbins got past one defender and raced in on another. The forwards finished off the 2-on-1 with Robbins backhanding a pass across the top of the crease for a Doherty finish at the right post.
Quinnipiac cut the deficit to one early in the third period after an icing was waved off and Odeen Tufto circled near the left wall and found Tanner MacMaster for a one-timer in the slot. Maine kept looking for a fourth goal as the period wore on but it would be MacMaster again for the Bobcats, using his second of the period to tie the game up with six minutes to play.
But the Black Bears kept fighting for the next goal and grabbed the lead back with 24.4 seconds left on the clock when Nolan Vesey took a shot from the left dot that bounced out to Shea at the bottom of the right circle where he slammed it home. Lacroix’s empty-net goal with under a second to go sealed the weekend sweep for Maine.
After stopping 19 shots in the first period, Swayman (7-3-1) went on to finish with 45 saves while Shortridge (5-8-2) had 21. Quinnipiac held the final edge in shots on goal (48-26).
The Black Bears will be back in action after the semester break with a two-game non-conference series at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Dec. 29 and 30.