2020–21 Men’s Hockey East Preview: Maine Black Bears

Last season: 18–11–5 (12–9–3, fourth in Hockey East)

Head coach: Red Gendron (eighth season)

Preseason poll projected finish: Ninth

Departures: G Jeremy Swayman, F Mitchell Fossier, F Tim Doherty, F Patrick Shea, F Ryan Smith, F Samuel Rennaker, G Stephen Mundinger

Additions: F Keenan Suthers, D Kabore Dunn, F Tristan Poissant, F Donovan Villenueve-Houle, F Zachary Aughe, F Lynden Breen, F Brad Morrissey, F John Mulera, G Victor Ostman, G Connor Androlewicz

By Mike Puzzanghera

Maine overperformed last year on the back of Jeremy Swayman, the top goaltender in the country. They got solid output from Mitchell Fossier, Tim Doherty, and Eduards Tralmaks in the offensive zone. But unfortunately for the Black Bears, three of those four are not returning.

Swayman, last year’s Richter Award winner (best college goalie) signed his entry-level deal with the Bruins after a year in which he backstopped Maine all the way to home ice in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. It was the program’s highest finish in eight years.

Fossier and Doherty made up most of Maine’s offense, so losing them is also a big blow. The two combined for 24 goals and 55 assists in 2019–20 and led the first line together. The Black Bears need increased production from Tralmaks (30 points last year) and Adam Dawe (20) to replace them.

Toronto Maple Leafs draftee JD Greenway is the big name on defense. After playing two seasons at Wisconsin, Greenway transferred to Orono and played well, racking up 10 points and blocking 33 shots. He’ll need to limit his time in the box (21 penalties for 61 minutes last season), but he has shown his ability when he can stay on the ice.

The big question mark is in net. Swayman started 33 of 34 games last season and notched a .939 save percentage, while backup goalie Matthew Theissen gave up three goals in seven minutes of action in his only start. Theissen, a 2018 Vancouver Canucks draftee, will surely take on some of those minutes, but he needs to improve on his rough performance from last year. Freshman Victor Ostman may also take some of that ice time; the 6’4” goalie posted a .913 save percentage with the Chicago Steel in the USHL last season.

Bottom Line: Losing a Richter Award winner is tough to overcome for any team, but with Maine’s low offensive output, the loss of Swayman becomes even greater. If everything clicks, the Black Bears could make the Hockey East Tournament. But in all likelihood, they’ll have to fight hard to avoid the cellar.

Men’s Hockey Finishes Sweep Over Maine

By Matthew Cunha

Photo by Sarah Olender

Northeastern needed a comeback after entering the third period down 2–1, but goals from Neil Shea and Zach Solow allowed them to fend off Maine Saturday night at Matthews Arena. The 3–2 win gave the Huskies a weekend sweep over Maine; the women’s team beat Maine earlier in the day and will face them again tomorrow.

“It wasn’t our greatest game, and I didn’t think our execution was great,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan. “But going into the third we knew we could play one good third period and win the game and that speaks to character.”

For a while, Northeastern seemed to be in full control. For more than half the game, Jayden Struble’s first collegiate goal kept them in front.

With 3:33 to go in the second period, that all changed. Mitch Fossier, who led Maine in scoring last year and captains this year’s squad, wheeled around the offensive zone and fired a last-ditch shot at Huskies goalie Craig Pantano. With players obscuring Pantano’s view, the shot slide through to tie the game at one.

About 70 seconds later, an Aidan McDonough hooking penalty gave the Black Bears a power play. Just 14 seconds after that, Pantano couldn’t corral the rebound off a Fossier shot, and Maine’s Adam Dawe capitalized to give the Black Bears a 2–1 lead. What had seemed like a sure Northeastern victory was slipping away.

But Northeastern responded. Four minutes into the third period, Neil Shea controlled the puck behind the Maine net and, despite the horrendous angle, threw the puck off the back of Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman and into the net, becoming the second Husky to score his first career goal.

“Freshman are finding their way through the season,” said Madigan. “All our freshmen are getting better. It’s nice for all our freshman just to get that first one. You remember that first goal; it’s part of your memory bank for the rest of your life.”

Northeastern got some chances on a Dawe penalty seven minutes into the period, but didn’t convert its doorstep chances.

With around six minutes remaining, Maine’s potent offensive duo of Fossier and Eduards Tralmaks had a chance to steal the game for Maine. Tralmaks led Fosser for a give and go; Fosser gave it back to Tralmaks who broke in alone as Struble was down on the ice. Tralmaks tried to deke it over to his backhand, but Pantano robbed Maine’s leading scorer.

“He’s been great all year,” said Madigan of Pantano. “He gives us a chance to win every single night. We expect it out of him. Craig bailed us out when we needed it and played really well.


With 4:13 remaining, a strong Northeastern attack bore fruit when senior defender Ryan Shea deked his way around several Maine players. Shea found fellow senior Zach Solow in front of the net, and Solow one-timed the shot past Swayman for his fourth goal of the season.

“We had a good offensive zone shift there,” said Solow. “It was a great individual effort by Shea. He beat his guy, I got lost and he put it right on my tape.”

Despite a Northeastern penalty for too many men on the ice, the Black Bears couldn’t answer. The game ended 3–2.

Northeastern outshot Maine 41–28, including 14–8 advantages in both the first and third periods. Pantano had 26 saves for Northeastern and Swayman had 38 for Maine.

Northeastern (8–4–2, 5–3–1 HEA)  has won their last three contests; Maine (7–5–2, 4–4–2 HEA) has lost their last two. The Huskies will head to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Friendship Four. They’ll face New Hampshire on Friday and either Colgate or Princeton on Saturday.