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Maine Hockey Misses Opportunity Against UNH

Normally, two points in a Hockey East weekend wouldn't be a bad deal for a team.

But in the case of the University of Maine, it was somewhat of a disappointment.

The cards were perfectly lined up for the Black Bears to make a statement this weekend against rivals New Hampshire.

Maine was celebrating the 40th anniversary of Alfond Arena. UNH was scuffling. This was the Bears' chance to resoundingly sweep their rivals from Durham.

It didn't happen, and Maine had to settle for a pair of ties, remaining winless against the Wildcats since the 2014-15 season.

To say it was a frustrating weekend was an understatement.

Maine led 2-0 late in the second period on Friday only to have UNH score with 3 seconds left in that period and early in the third, and the Bears let another third-period lead slip away on Saturday.

The most frustrating part of this series for me was UNH goalie Danny Tirone.

Tirone is a middle-of-the-pack goalie in Hockey East, but for whatever reason, he turns into Ken Dryden against Maine. He's constantly out of control in the crease and leaves rebounds, but Maine did not throw enough pucks at him and get to the front of the net consistently.

Maine's talented freshman goalie, Jeremy Swayman, let in a couple goals on Saturday he'd like to have back, including the Wildcats' tying goal in the third period. He was somewhat inconsistent last weekend.

Offensively, the Bears were also a bit too passive at times, not going to the net with regularity. I had to think of early in "Hoosiers" where Gene Hackman's character implented his "no shots before four passes" rule. It's OK to shoot the puck once in a while. Norman Dale is not behind that Maine bench.

While the on-ice results could've been better, the University did a wonderful job with the 40-year celebration of the Alfond, in particular with the late Harold Alfond's family on hand for a ceremonial puck drop Saturday.

Moving forward, Maine sits alone in 6th place in Hockey East, meaning if the season ended today, cellar-dwelling Vermont would come to Orono for a postseason series. But with series coming up against eighth-place UMass and 10th-place Merrimack, Maine needs to get all the points it can get.

And I'm sure nobody wants to see Danny Tirone between the Alfond pipes in March.

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