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Maine Hockey Splits with #2 UMass

If you look up inconsistency in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of the 2018-19 UMaine hockey team.

One night, the Black Bears look like the talented team they are, as was the case in Saturday's 4-3 victory over UMass, giving the Bears a split with the second-ranked Minutemen.

Jeremy Swayman has been Maine's best player all year and he was again Saturday, recording 53 saves. The Black Bears nearly found a way to blow this one, as they led 4-1 going into the third period, but managed to kill off a penalty with the goaltender pulled to hold on.

Will THIS give the Bears some momentum heading into a road rivalry series with UNH next weekend? As bad as they've looked at times, Maine is five points out of fourth place in Hockey East. They need to play with the sense of urgency they showed a packed Alfond Arena on Saturday.

There's no doubt UMass is a great team, and Cale Makar is going to be a great NHL player when he likely signs with Colorado after this season. Some believe the Minutemen are a national championship contender.

I've watched Maine play both UMass and Minnesota-Duluth, and I don't think UMass would beat the likes of the Bulldogs or St. Cloud or even North Dakota on a neutral ice sheet. Hockey East is what it is, and it's mediocre this year, which gives Maine a fighting chance to keep clawing up the standings.

It's up to the Black Bears to keep taking advantage, but it's not going to be easy with four of their next six away from Orono, and the lone home series against Providence, the only team in Hockey East Red Gendron has yet to beat in his time here.

Three points against UNH at the least isn't too much to ask for.

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