The regular-season finale for the University of Maine hockey team was a warm and fuzzy one in an otherwise disappointing regular season.
Senior goaltender Rob McGovern, relegated to the role of backup the last two years, shut out Boston University 6-0 in an otherwise meaningless game, as Maine was locked into the sixth seed in Hockey East and a quarterfinal matchup at No. 3 Northeastern.
Red Gendron's Black Bears finished 15-15-4 overall and 11-9-4 in league play.
The Bears fell short of the expectation of hosting a playoff series in Orono, and are now faced with traveling to Matthews Arena and facing a fast, talented Huskies club.
Northeastern will challenge the Bears with its depth, with seven players who have registered at least 20 points, led by defenseman Jeremy Davies (eight goals, 25 assists) and former Black Bear Liam Pecararo (10 & 17).
Cayden Primeau is also one of the premier goaltenders in the league, boasting a .932 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average.
You think fans of the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will be watching with some interest in the context of their futures between the pipes? Primeau is a Habs draft pick and his counterpart, UMaine's Jeremy Swayman, belongs to the Bruins.
Swayman's .919 save percentage and 2.82 GAA have kept the Bears afloat this year. You take him out of the equation, this team probably misses the eight-team playoffs.
Only three Bears (Mitch Fossier, Chase Pearson and Brady Keeper) have registered more than 20 points on the season. Scoring will be a challenge. Maine will have to be opportunistic.
This is a team talented enough to get to Causeway Street, but I won't be surprised if Northeastern takes this series in two games. If I am wrong, maybe Gendron can finally silence his many critics?
We'll see. My head says Huskies in three.