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Black Bears Sweep UNH: Providence Is Up Next

Playoff games are not played on paper, but the UMaine hockey team took care of business this weekend against a bad New Hampshire team they were expected to beat.

But of course, the Wildcats didn't make it super easy in their first-round playoff series at Alfond Arena.

Maine sent longtime UNH bench boss Dick Umile into retirement Saturday with a 3-2 win after a 4-1 triumph on Friday.

If you watched both games, which I did, it was clear that Maine was the far better team both nights.

UNH's saving grace was, of course, Danny Tirone.

Tirone reminds me of a NASCAR driver who finds a way to contend at restrictor-plate tracks when half the field wrecks out, but is always a few laps down at most other tracks.

Translation: Alfond Arena is this guy's Daytona and Talladega. No Maine fans are going to miss Dan Hannigan yelling "SAVED BY TIRONE!"

The scrappy Black Bears found a way to get it done. And this is what this program and its fans need after a couple of cellar-dwelling seasons.

Both nights, Maine's defense looked vastly better than it did in the first two games against Boston College. Offensively, the Black Bears got contributions up and down the lineup, which they'll need if they want to upset a Providence team they haven't beaten in what seems like 100 years.

It was great to see a playoff atmosphere at the Alfond this weekend. The old girl was shaking both nights, and Maine, which has struggled at home this season, fed off that.

I also want to add that it was completely disgusting of UNH freshman Max Gildon to knee Maine's Mitch Fossier in the head after the horn sounded Saturday.

Fossier had been down on the ice before being hit, and he has had concussion issues in the past.

It was a class move by Umile to grab Gildon by the back of his shirt and give him an earful at the bench after the dust settled.

If Gildon doesn't start next season suspended a couple games, than the officiating in Hockey East is truly inconsistent.

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