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U Maine Hockey: Rollercoaster Weekend

November 20, 2017

 

The most important position in the game of ice hockey is goaltender. 

 

When a team's goalie is on fire, his teammates feed off of that. 

 

In the case of the University of Maine, freshman Jeremy Swayman has shown that he's clearly coach Red Gendron's number one guy.

 

The fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins has won his last three starts, including an impressive 40-save performance in a 5-2 win over Boston University on Friday. 

 

A lot of fans expected the team to continue riding Swayman in going for the sweep on Saturday, but Gendron's pattern of splitting his goaltenders continued, and junior Rob McGovern was shaky in a 7-0 defeat in Portland. 

 

What a difference two nights make. 

 

On Friday, UMaine's blue-liners were active in front of Swayman, constantly getting their sticks in passing lanes and blocking shots. 

 

The defensemen also made a difference offensively, with sophomore Pat Holway's third-period goal giving UMaine the breathing room it needed. 

 

Saturday, the team looked lifeless, and McGovern letting a goal in less than two minutes into the game set the tone, and the inconsistency that has plagued Maine the last few years showed. 

 

While McGovern has been solid in his three years in Orono, you have to keep riding the hot hand and while the season is young, Swayman has showed he has the capability to be an elite collegiate goaltender. Maine has had great goaltending tandems in the past, but it's clear that Swayman is the No. 1 guy, and gives the Black Bears the best chance to win.

 

We'll see who gets the nod on Friday when the Bears embark on the longest road trip in program history when they meet Hockey East foe Providence in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Providence is the lone team in Hockey East Maine has not beaten since Gendron took over for Tim Whitehead in 2013.

 

A sidebar: I'm completely OK with Maine playing games in Portland, but marquee games against teams like BU should remain on campus at Alfond Arena. The atmosphere at the Alfond is second to none in the country, in particular with rivals like BU in town. 

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