A weekend sweep by Northeastern puts the Black Bears back at the kids table for Thanksgiving

The University of Maine hockey team was just served a pre Thanksgiving slice of humble pie. A sweep at the hands of Northeastern, 5-2 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday, put the Black Bears back at the kids table in Hockey East.

Was this the type of “We’re on to Cincinnati” weekend coach Red Gendron’s club needed? Perhaps.

The Black Bears had been riding high after a home sweep of rival New Hampshire, but this weekend’s sweep by the Huskies showed that Maine isn’t quite on par with the top dogs in Hockey East or the nation.

UMaine is 7-5-2 as they wrap up November. Let’s dig into those numbers like you’re at the Thanksgiving Day table and Uncle Pete just finished saying grace.

The Black Bears have enjoyed home cooking for sure. They are 5-0-1 at the Alfond. However they are just 2-5-1 on the road.

Here’s how how the #27 Black Bears have faired versus opponents by Pairwise Ranking.

Ranking Team Maine’s record vs opponent

#20 Northeastern. 0-2
#23 Providence 0-1
#25 UMass Lowell 0-1-1
#27 Maine ———
#29 New Hampshire 2-0
#32 Quinipiac 1-1
#37 Boston University 1-0-1
#50 Alaska Anchorage 2-0
#57 Vermont 1-0

There are 60 D -1 mens hockey teams in the country.

Goaltender Jeremy Swayman is the engine that makes this team go, and he was subpar Friday night as Maine never had a chance in the 5-2 defeat. 

Swayman, a Boston Bruins draft pick, was given a 2-1 lead heading into the third period on Saturday, but the Huskies scored a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes to steal two more Hockey East points.

Adding insult to injury? The tying goal was scored by Neil Shea, the brother of Black Bear senior Patrick Shea, who had originally committed to Maine but chose to play on Huntington Avenue instead. Think they’ll talk about that as they pass the stuffing at Thanksgiving?

The Bears need to find some offensive consistency starting next weekend. Swayman can’t do it all.

Maine is #33 in the nation scoring just 2.563 goals per game. That’s just not enough.

The reality is, if you take Swayman away, this is probably a bottom-3 team in Hockey East. You’re not going to compete with offensively skilled teams like UMass and Northeastern if you can’t put the puck in the net. 

But UMaine should be thankful. They dine on some hockey leftovers next week as they have a great chance to rebound with a road trip to ECAC bottom-feeder St. Lawrence. (#55 Pairwise) That series has the feeling of a must-sweep with two games at UMass to follow.


Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.