The University of Maine hockey team was expected to take care of business at home against a subpar Vermont squad this weekend.
While the Black Bears did that in resounding fashion Saturday afternoon in dispatching the Catamounts 6-2, old habits cost Maine two points on Friday night.
The Bears were up 2-0 in the third period and were primed to start the series with a victory, but two third-period penalties, the last of which was a questionable holding call on defenseman Alexis Binner, led to the Catamounts forcing overtime, where the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Yes, the penalties were frustrating, but truth be told, Maine should've been up by two or three goals after two periods, which saw neither team crack the net. But the Bears were unable to solve Vermont netminder Stefanos Lekkas, who frustrated coach Red Gendron's club all night.
Turns out, it was Maine's own goalie, Jeremy Swayman, who made a couple of remarkable saves in overtime to allow the Bears to get a point.
Saturday, Maine overcame an early 1-0 hole and cruised to a victory, with defenseman Pat Holway and Swayman among the stalwarts.
With two non-conference games at Quinnipiac of the ECAC separating Maine from the end of the first semester, the Bears sit a respectable 4-4-1 in Hockey East, good for a sixth-place tie with UConn.
If you want some perspective, Maine finished with just 12 league points a year go. It has nine as the first weekend of December comes to a close.
The consistent goaltending Swayman has given Maine will be key to making a second-half push, with the first goal to host a Hockey East playoff series at the Alfond.
Paul Kariya and Jimmy Howard aren't walking through that door, but this young group of Black Bears is fun to watch and is playing some good hockey. Eight straight games on the road starting Friday will test the mettle of this young team.