Boston, MA- The Maine Black Bears entered the weekend with momentum after a sweep of archrival New Hampshire. Expected to finish near the middle of the pack and then smashed 7-0 by Providence on opening night, Maine appeared completely turned around with points in six of their last seven conference games. Northeastern acted as a heat check on Friday night with Tyler Madden recording a hat trick and an assist in a 5-2 final at Matthews Arena. On Saturday, the Huskies aimed for a sweep and got it, fully stopping Maine’s roll.
The opening period felt slow thanks to a parade of players to the penalty box early, three in the first ten minutes. With two such penalties going against Maine, Northeastern jumped on the early attack and tilted the shot counter in their favor. Boston Bruins draftee Jeremy Swayman held his own in the Maine net and kept the Huskies off the board early. Eventually, Northeastern’s skilled youth broke the ice. Jayden Strouble, a Montreal Canadiens draft pick out of Cumberland, RI, whipped a wrister through Swayman for his first collegiate goal and a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Much of the second period was an even duel. The shots were 13-12 in favor of Northeastern. Maine did breakthrough at the end of the period. First, Captain Mitchell Fossier knotted the game even. Then, a shoving match between Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup and Aidan McDonough resulted in a minor on McDonough. Fourteen seconds into the power play, Adam Dawe gave Maine the lead with his third goal of the season.
Northeastern jumped onto the ice eager to score and tipped the shot counter their way 14-8. Two pucks beat Swayman. Neil Shea scored his first collegiate goal from slightly behind the goal-line extended while guarded by his older brother Patrick, a Florida Panthers draft pick and YouTube star. Late in the period, with a frantic feel taking over Matthews Arena, NU Captain Ryan Shea danced on the Maine defense and delivered the puck to the crease where Zach Solow tipped it over Swayman with 4:13 left in the game. Northeastern committed a bench minor for too many men on the ice merely eight seconds after the goal. Maine got two excellent shots, but Craig Pantano snuffed them both out. The Graduate transfer from Bridgewater, MA, stopped 26 of 28 on the night, including those in the final, 6 on 5 skating shots as a brouhaha ensued at the buzzer, for a 3-2 Northeastern victory.
Maine drops to 7-5-2(4-4-2 HEA). The Black Bears fall into a tie with Boston College and Boston University in the Hockey East standings with 10 points.
Jeremy Swayman stopped 38 of 41 shots.
The Black Bears return to Orono to face St. Lawrence next weekend. Puck drops against the Saints at Alfond Arena at 7:30 pm ET on Friday night, and 7 pm ET on Saturday night.
Northeastern improves to 8-4-2(5-3-1 HEA). The Huskies sit only one point behind first-placed Providence.
Northeastern travels to Belfast, Northern Ireland to partake in the Friendship Four for the second time in program history. They face New Hampshire on Friday at the SSE Arena. They will then face the winner of Princeton and Colgate in either the consolation or championship game.