Men’s Hockey Bests Maine, 5–2

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Jonathan Golbert

The Northeastern Huskies got off to a blistering start Friday night, jumping to a two–zip lead less than six minutes into their tilt with the Maine Black Bears. 

Coach Jim Madigan’s forwards led the way for the Huskies (7–4–2, 4–3–1 HEA), who now sit in fifth place in the Hockey East standings, one point behind the Black Bears (7–4–3, 4–3–2) who are in a three-way tie for second.

The first two goals of the night, courtesy of sophomore sensation Tyler Madden, were followed up by a rebound strike from Maine forward Eduards Tralmaks 11 minutes in, leaving the Huskies with a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

In the second, the Huskies extended their advantage when forward Zach Solow rang a tipped shot off the crossbar before batting it out of the air past Black Bear netminder Jeremy Swayman.

Solow’s power play tally was followed by Madden’s third goal of the game. The Deerfield Beach, Fla. native took a feed from junior forward Grant Jozefek and used his quick hands to blast it past a shell-shocked Swayman.

“Obviously it’s awesome,” said Madden on scoring his first-ever Husky hat trick. “What’s important is that we came out of the game with two points and we’re going to try to get two more tomorrow.”

Ben Poisson got one back for the Black Bears on an odd-man rush, sniping one above the shoulder of a helpless Craig Pantano.

But when freshman Aidan McDonough capitalized on the man-advantage a minute into the third period, the game felt out of reach for Maine coach Red Gendron’s squad. Two costly penalties in the last 10 minutes of the game scuttled any chance of a dramatic Maine comeback. 

“We were not the best version of ourselves tonight,” said a frustrated Gendron after the game. “They played the type of game they succeed with, but that wasn’t the best we can do.” 

The Huskies netted a comfortable 5–2 win in front of an enthusiastic crowd, but won’t have much time to rest on their laurels. The two teams will battle again Saturday night. Matt Cunha and Adam Doucette will call the game from Matthews Arena, with coverage beginning at 6:45 EST.

Hockey East Preview: Maine Black Bears

Last Season: 15–17–4 (11–9–4 HE, sixth place); Lost in HE quarterfinals 

Head Coach: Red Gendron (seventh season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Eighth

Losses

  • G Rob McGovern 
  • D Sam Becker
  • D Brady Keeper
  • D Rob Michel
  • D Keith Muehlbauer
  • F Canon Pieper
  • F Brendan Robbins
  • F Daniel Perez
  • F Chase Pearson

Additions

  • G Matthew Thiessen
  • D Levi Kleiboer
  • D  J.D. Greenway
  • D Perry Winfree
  • D Adrien Bisson
  • F Ben Poisson
  • F Brady Gaudette
  • F Dawson Bruenski
  • F Remy Parker

By Matthew Cunha

In the last two years, Red Gendron’s Black Bears finished sixth after several seasons as Hockey East bottom-feeders. The improvement was largely due to goalie Jeremy Swayman, who made the All-Hockey East third team last season and posted a 2.78 GAA and .919 save percentage. Last season, the fourth-round Boston Bruins prospect often bailed out the Black Bears.

Big blows came this offseason with the departures of Chase Pearson and Brady Keeper to the pros. Pearson and Keeper finished second and third in scoring for the Black Bears, combining for 52 points. 

The good news for Maine is the return of senior Mitchell Fossier. Fossier led Maine in scoring for the second straight season with 36 points, good for seventh in Hockey East. Fossier was the clear-cut choice to captain the Black Bears this season. He will be assisted by seniors Ryan Smith and Tim Doherty (fourth in scoring last season) and junior Jack Quinlivan. 

The nine newcomers for the Black Bears are highlighted by junior J.D. Greenway, the 72nd pick in the 2016 draft (Toronto Maple Leafs) and the brother of Minnesota Wild’s Jordan Greenway. J.D. played two seasons at the University of Wisconsin (10 points in 46 career games) before losing playing time and deciding to play junior hockey. The 6’5” defensemen should add clarity, structure, steadiness, and a veteran presence to the Black Bears’ back end, though his experience at Wisconsin is a bit concerning.

Another addition Northeastern fans will notice is freshman Brady Gaudette, the brother of former Northeastern Husky and Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. Brady comes to Maine after a year of playing junior hockey.

Bottom Line: Maine seems destined for the middle of the pack once again thanks to Swayman, who now has talented defenseman J.D. Greenway in front of him. Outside of Fossier, the Black Bears will have a hard time putting the puck in the net after the losses of Pearson and Kepper to the pros. If the freshmen can’t score the offense could go downhill fast, but Swayman is good enough to get this team back in sixth place with another first-round exit.