ORONO — It’s said that it’s better to be lucky than good. Nobody on the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team was much interested in the distinction between the two Friday night.

The Black Bears used a little bit of both, scoring three unanswered goals to finish off rival University of New Hampshire 3-1 in a Hockey East game played before an announced crowd of 4,787 at Alfond Arena. Freshman A.J. Drobot scored his first career goal in the win, while Eduards Tralmaks and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup added their team-leading seventh goals of the season, respectively.

Freshman defenseman Adrien Bisson picked up a pair of assists.

“Shift after shift, we just kind of came like waves,” Drobot said. “We started finishing checks and building momentum that way. You kind of feed off that energy as a group, and it continues to pile up throughout the game. Usually, you come out on top if you can do that.”

Maine snapped a three-game winless stretch and improved to 6-3-2 on the season (3-2-2 HEA), while ending a three-game winning streak for New Hampshire (5-3-1, 3-2-0 HEA). The two teams will complete the weekend series Saturday night at Alfond.

It was Drobot’s game-tying goal late in the second period which garnered much of the attention in the aftermath, the rookie having somehow tipped a Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi dump-in from his own zone past UNH goalie Mike Robinson (24 saves) at the offensive blue line.


As fluky as the goal was, and for as much life as it injected into the largest crowd of the season at Alfond, it was how Maine took that gratuitous bounce and changed the game’s momentum.

“When you have five thousand people suddenly going absolutely banana-land, it helps a little bit,” Schmidt-Svejstrup said. “We don’t really care how it went in, as long as it went in the net.”

“It was the end of a shift,” Drobot said. “I was just looking to deflect the puck in, get it deep and head to the bench. It took a crazy bounce — and a little bit of puck luck, I’d say.”

UNH got on the board first, less than eight minutes into the contest, when Kohei Sato scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season. He beat Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman short-side, thought it appeared Swayman had the near post well covered.

Swayman recovered with a 30-save effort for the victory.

“Each team had a fluke goal,” Maine coach Red Gendron said. “(Swayman) is mentally strong. Bad things happen to good people all the freaking time. That’s how it is. Jeremy Swayman is not one of the people that keeps me up at night.”


It was a perfect point on an opening stanza in which the Wildcats were the much better team.

But by the time Drobot’s long deflection fooled Robinson, and Tralmaks punched home MItchell Fossier’s feed in the final minute of the second period, that good start for UNH had been forgotten.

“I give Maine a lot of credit tonight,” UNH coach Mike Sousa said. “I thought they wanted the game more than we did. They beat us to loose pucks. They protected pucks better. They created more havoc than we did.”

“I was disappointed, obviously, in the result. But the result was a credit to Maine. They played well.”

Schmidt-Svejstrup added Maine’s third goal on the power play early in the third period. He blasted his one-timer from the top of the left circle under the crossbar to convert a feed from Jakub Sirota.

While Maine got a key power-play goal in that situation, the same could not be said for New Hampshire. The Wildcats, boasting the nation’s fifth-best power play entering the weekend at 30.6 percent efficiency, went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.

UNH mustered only three power-play shots across the 10 minutes of man-up time.

“Oh, really?” Tralmaks asked. “Wow.

“It’s playing simple — talk, communicate, structure. … Our four guys have to outplay their five guys. That’s the biggest thing about us. Work hard and play smart.”

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