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Black Bears Loss is Bruins Gain

On a St. Patrick's Day where New England sports fans were dealt a punch in the gut in the form of Tom Brady's announcement, Bruins fans got a dose of good news Tuesday afternoon.

Jeremy Swayman, a huge cog in the University of Maine hockey team's surprising run to the top half of Hockey East this winter, signed with the Boston Bruins.

The Anchorage, Alaska, native was joined by his father and UMaine head coach Red Gendron among others in signing his deal.

While this is a blow to the Black Bears, it's not an unexpected one.

Swayman posted an 18-11-5 record, a .939 save percentage and a 2.07 goals-against average in the 2019-20 campaign, leading the Black Bears to their best record in eight years.

UMaine would've hosted a Hockey East quarterfinal series with UConn and probably would've been in the NCAA Tournament had coronavirus concerns not canceled the postseason.

The Black Bears would've been a dangerous team with Swayman, the winner of the Walter Brown award emblematic of the best American born college hockey player in New England.

Swayman was also a Hockey East Player of the Year finalist and should be in the conversation for the Hobey Baker and Mike Richter awards, the latter given to the nation's best goaltender.

Being a longtime UMaine hockey follower and a Bruins fan, this is great news for the future of the B's.

Tuukka Rask turned 33 years old in March, and Swayman clearly showed this season he is ready to take his development to the professional level.

Don't be surprised if he's suiting up with Boston's AHL affiliate in Providence if the NHL and AHL resume work once the cornoavirus is combatted.

Swayman's final game in a UMaine sweater is one that Black Bear Nation will treasure for a lifetime, a 48-save shutout of Providence College in front of a sold-out Alfond Arena that gave the Bears their top-four finish and home-ice berth.

That performance etched Swayman into Black Bear goaltender lore with the likes of Garth Snow, Mike Dunham and Jimmy Howard. It's just a shame we never got to see him in the NCAA Tournament.

Swayman really improved a lot this season, in particular with his rebound control and his vision and control between the pipes. I have a feeling he's going to be on a Duck Boat before this decade is over.

UMaine still has Vancouver draft pick Matthew Theissen returning for his sophomore year and incoming freshman Victor Ostman of Sweden, who is 25-4 with a .913 save percentage and 2.34 GAA with the USHL-leading Chicago Steel, for whom former Black Bear Matt Deschamps is an assistant coach. The USHL is the top amateur league in the country.

The Black Bears will be just fine next season, and Swayman is en route to a great professional career.

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