Two days after being swept out of the Hockey East playoffs, two University of Maine players chose to end their respective Black Bear careers early.

Junior captain Chase Pearson signed his first professional contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Pearson, who led Maine with 16 goals this season, was Detroit’s 2015 fifth-round draft pick.

Sophomore defenseman Brady Keeper, who was undrafted when he headed to Maine, signed on Monday with the Florida Panthers. With 22 points, Keeper finished third on the Black Bears in scoring and was the team’s top-scoring defenseman.

Both players signed two-year, entry-level contracts, according to NHL.com.

Maine’s season ended Saturday night in Boston, where the Black Bears were swept in a two-game quarterfinal series against No. 9 Northeastern. Maine finished the season 15-17-4.

Pearson finished second on the Black Bears in scoring with 30 points this winter and ended his Maine career with 37 goals and 42 assists in three seasons. He is expected to sign a tryout contract this week with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound center from Alpharetta, Georgia, is the son of Scott Pearson, who played nearly 300 NHL games for five different organizations during his career from 1988-2000.

Keeper, from Cross Lake, Manitoba, finished his Black Bear career with 44 points, second only to senior Rob Michel among this year’s Maine blue liners in career scoring.


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