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Who are THESE Black Bears?

October 23, 2019

 

Beating top-10 teams on the road? That's completely unheard of.

 

But coach Red Gendron's club managed to get that accomplished for the first time in the Gendron era Friday night, knocking off eighth-ranked Quinnipiac 4-2 behind Eduards Tralmaks' three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and Jeremy Swayman's 31-save performance.

 

It marked the first time Maine had defeated a top-10 team away from Orono since a win over third-ranked New Hampshire over the final weekend of the 2012-13 season.

 

Maine couldn't complete the sweep, as the Bobcats fought back to earn a 4-3 victory on Saturday.

 

Tralmarks completed the weekend with four points, and the Black Bears have a lot to be pleased about coming out of the weekend. This clearly isn't the same team that lost by an aggregate 12-0 to Providence College and the University of New Brunswick in its first two games.

 

While I'm certainly in the minority on this, it was nice to see freshman Matthew Thiessen get his Black Bear debut on Saturday, although he was pulled after three goals and Swayman finished up.

 

Black Bear Nation was all over Gendron for starting the Manitoba native and giving him his college hockey baptism against a top-10 opponent, but the kid has to play eventually. 

 

He was also taken with the 192nd pick by Vancouver in the 2018 NHL Draft, so it's not like Thiessen is a walk-on.

 

While you could argue Swayman is Maine's best player, Thiessen needs to see some crease time. At this time next year, Swayman could be playing in the Bruins' organization, and you also don't want to wear him out.

 

I have no problem with Gendron starting Thiessen, especially with a string of nine Hockey East games coming up, with five of those coming on the road.

 

Maine certainly garnered some attention throughout Hockey East by winning in Quinnipiac's building. The next three league games - at bottom-feeder Vermont and a two-game home set against Boston University - are all winnable. Vermont isn't expected to do much and BU blew a 4-1 lead at home against ECAC patsy Union and had to settle for a tie.

 

If there's any time for Gendron to silence some critics, it's this nine-game stretch.

 

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