University of Maine men’s hockey coach Red Gendron doesn’t see his team having any problem recovering from its trip to Northern Ireland for the Friendship Four Tournament. The Black Bears must prepare for two important Hockey East home games against the University of Vermont on Friday and Saturday nights.
The team returned to Orono on Sunday night after spending six days in Belfast, where the time difference is five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
“We have more than enough time to recover. We don’t play until Friday night,” said fifth-year UMaine head coach Red Gendron. “We’ll do things we need to do competitive-wise and in other ways to make sure we’re ready to play Friday night.”
The Black Bears (5-7, 3-4 Hockey East) lost a league game to Providence College 3-0 on Friday but bounced back to beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 4-2 in Saturday’s consolation game.
Clarkson beat Providence 4-2 in the championship.
Gendron called the trip “phenomenal.
“The only downside was we didn’t win on Friday. We went there to win two games,” said Gendron.
“That being said, all the other elements were terrific. The people were great and we saw things like the Giant’s Causeway, the Peace Wall and the Titanic Museum,” said Gendron, who noted that they saw some castle ruins.
“The most inspiring part of the trip was visiting schools. It was quite remarkable. The children had great smiles and I’m not sure if they did more for us than we did for them,” said Gendron. “We showed them what opportunities there are in our college system for athletics and an education…how college athletics are big in our country.”
He said he and his players got to take a whack a hurling, which is a big sport in Northern Ireland and the Republic or Ireland and involves a ball and a stick.
“It was a one-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Gendron.
He said the Black Bears embraced the challenge of coming back on short rest on Saturday morning and playing a solid game. We certainly made mistakes but we grew in some respects as a team and identified the areas we need to grow in.”
Freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman allowed two goals in each game and made 52 saves. He has apparently earned the No. 1 job over junior Rob McGovern.
Swayman, a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins, has allowed two goals in each of his last five starts and has stopped 155 of 165 shots for a .939 save percentage.
“He has played real well,” said Gendron.
Freshman center Jack Quinlivan of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, made his college debut against RPI and had a good showing, according to Gendron. He didn’t register any points but centered a line between Canon Pieper and Brendan Robbins.
“[Quinlivan] is a hard-nosed kid who competes like crazy,” said Gendron. “He earned his right to play over a stretch of time and he didn’t disappoint.”
UMaine women’s basketball team facing two more NCAA tourney teams this week