ORONO — If the first period was Chase Pearson’s preseason, he was in midseason form by the start of the second.

The University of Maine hockey captain scored a pair of second-period goals, one shorthanded and one on the power play, sparking the Black Bears to a season-opening 3-1 win over St. Lawrence on Friday night at Alfond Arena. Ryan Smith also had a goal and an assist for Maine, which will entertain the Saints again Saturday night to cap off the weekend series.

Pearson, a junior and draft pick of the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, did not play in the team’s exhibition game Monday. But he accounted for two Black Bear goals in a second period containing all of the game’s scoring.

“That was my first game in three months from the summer, so there was a little bit of an adjustment period for the first couple of shifts,” said Pearson, who had just seven goals all of last season after needing 18 games to finally light the lamp.

“I thought I found a rhythm. After about midway through the first (period) I felt pretty good.”

Sophomore netminder Jeremy Swayman made 16 saves in the win, nine of those in the first period alone. Opposite number Arthur Brey made 34 saves for St. Lawrence, a number of them from close range to keep his team in the game in the third period.

The teams netted just one power-play goal apiece, despite combining for 15 man-advantages.

“Good win for us against a gritty opponent,” Maine head coach Red Gendron said. “They played real, real hard — that was obvious — and we made some plays.”

After a scoreless first period, Pearson scored the first goal of the new year while the Black Bears were shorthanded at the 8:28 mark of the second. Smith sprung him off on a breakaway, and Pearson shoveled the puck on net as he was being hauled down from behind by St. Lawrence defenseman Cameron White. Brey made the initial stop, but the puck trickled over the goal line for Maine’s 1-0 lead.

“I wasn’t planning on shooting it there,” Pearson said. “I just kind of pushed it at the net and it went in.”

“That was a huge play, because even though we started to get more chances (in the second), we hadn’t scored yet,” Gendron said. “By scoring that goal, and then adding one on top of that, it was very helpful to us.”

That advantage grew to 2-0 when Smith corralled a puck off the left wing board, spun and fired a floating wrister that beat Brey five-hole with 9:14 remaining in the frame.

“Young mistakes,” St. Lawrence coach Mark Morris said. “The energy was there, the effort was there. But you never want to beat yourselves, and that happened tonight.”

St. Lawrence answered on the power play just over two minutes later.

Swayman was still trying to get back into position after making a save at the top of the crease when Philip Alftberg’s slapper from the top of the right circle clanked off the crossbar and over the goal line. It was just the third shot of a quiet — and penalty-marred — period for the Saints.

Pearson built the Maine lead back to a pair of goals at 16:33. Freshman Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup sent Pearson cutting across the slot area, and Pearson finished off the play with a backhand top shelf.

“You know who used to score goals like that here? A guy who used to wear No. 9,” Gendron said, alluding to 1993 Hobey Baker Award winner at Maine, Paul Kariya. “When Chase scored that goal, that’s what I was thinking about. I saw him cutting off the left wing more than once and going over the glove.”

Maine’s penalty kill went 7 for 8 in the win, including a perfect 3 for 3 in the opening period. The Black Bears finished with 12 blocked shots in front of Swayman, including seven in the first 20 minutes, to make the sophomore’s night easier.

“That’s the best thing ever,” Swayman said. “Not only does it help our team, but it also gets a momentum shift in the game. One blocked shot can really change the momentum.”

The best scoring chance of the first period belonged to Maine, despite St. Lawrence carrying the play for much of the stanza.

Mitchell Fossier blocked Alftberg’s slapper from just inside the blue line, corralling the puck and sending Brendan Robbins off on a breakaway with 9:22 remaining.

Brey made a fine glove save to keep things scoreless for the time being.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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