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Mixed Weekend For UMaine Hockey Team

Questionable Officiating and Questionable Coaching.

The University of Maine hockey team's home series against UMass Lowell this weekend - which ended in a predictable split - featured a tale of two games.

Friday's up-and-down affair, ending in a 4-3 Black Bears victory, gave fans their money's worth. Maine fell behind 2-0 in the second period before rattling off four second-period goals.

It was the type of back-and-forth battle fans love to watch.

Then, Saturday came. Your typical Hockey East penalty-fest, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the River Hawks.

While Jeremy Swayman gave his team a fighting chance on a night where Lowell was the better squad, it was quite clear that the officials were the "first stars."

Many Hockey East media members have been vocal about how inconsistent the officiating is, and many Maine fans have been all over Red Gendron about his team not staying out of the penalty box.

This time, I'm on the side of my sports writing brethren.

Sixteen penalties were called between the teams Saturday. Sixteen. For a college hockey game in one of the best conferences in the nation, that's a complete joke.

Neither team can establish a flow when there's constant parades to the penalty box. This is the type of stuff you see in Maine high school basketball, where ticky-tack fouls are as much a common theme as dramatic buzzer-beaters.

As far as Saturday's game, it was complete domination by Mass-Lowell. Maine's Jeremy Swayman finished with 44 saves, including 28 Grade-A (high percentage) stops, as the Black Bears were outshot 45-24.

It didn't help the Bears' cause that captain Chase Pearson was on the bench virtually the entire third period. Maine struggled to create much of anything without him on the ice.

I have a lot of respect for Gendron, but this one's on him. Benching arguably your best offensive player in the 3rd period of a league game that was scoreless heading into the final 20 minutes? No less your captain? I'll question that all day long. Hell, I'm still questioning Bill Belichick's decision to bench Malcom Butler. We all know the Patriots made Nick Foles look like Johnny Unitas.

Hopefully as the season goes along, Hockey East games won't be a whistle-happy affair like Saturday night's game was. Next weekend, Maine can perhaps take advantage of a reeling Boston University team as it heads to Commonwealth Avenue for a two-game set.

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