What a difference a night makes.
After cruising to a comfortable 7-1 victory over the University of Alaska at Anchorage on Friday night, the University of Maine needed a superb 37-save goaltending performance from junior goalie Jeremy Swayman and a lucky bounce to post a 2-1 overtime victory at Alfond Arena.
Junior left wing Eduards Tralmaks was credited with the game-winner after the puck took a crazy bounce to him in front of the Anchorage net.
An Anchorage player was trying to shoot the puck around the boards behind his net but the puck hit Mitch Fossier’s stick and the boards in front of the Zamboni entrance before glancing over to Tralmaks at the far post.
Tralmaks spun around and threw the puck across the net to the other post but it deflected into the net off the skate of Seawolves defenseman Eric Sinclair.
“The hockey gods were with us in overtime,” Tralmaks said. “It’s the luckiest goal I’ve ever scored. I saw Mitch and [Doherty] coming back door and I was too close to the goalie so I tossed it back door. If it didn’t go in from their skate, probably Mitch or [Doherty] would have scored.”
Tim Doherty and Fossier picked up assists as the Black Bears improved to 2-1.
Anchorage, which outshot UMaine 38-28 and carried the play for significant portions of the game, is now 0-2.
Doherty hustled down the ice to nullify a potential icing call which allowed the play to continue and set the stage for the game-winner.
“[A.J.] Drobot made a chip and I knew I had to beat [their defensemen] out. So I did whatever I could [to outrace him] and not get the icing. Then [Fossier] made a play and [Tralmaks] made a play and we won. It was the kind of game where you needed a bounce like that and we got one,” Doherty said.
UMaine killed a penalty earlier in the overtime with Swayman making a great glove save on Taylor Lantz’s point-blank wrist off a feed from behind the net by Tanner Schachle.
“I didn’t put it high enough on a goodl goalie and he made a great save. He’s a very good goalie,” Lantz said.
“They had been doing that the past few nights, throwing the puck out front from behind the net. I was ready for it. It was a bang-bang play. I was hoping my good positioning would pay off.
Kris Carlson had 26 for the 0-2 Seawolves.
“They did a good job getting their heels to the paint and crashing the net. They made it tough on me for sure,” said Anchorage native Swayman, a fourth round draft pick of the Boston Bruins. “[Carlson] played a great game. It was a great goaltending battle.
“Our defensemen did a great job boxing out the whole night and letting me see the shots. That’s a big reason we had success,” Swayman added.
“Mr. Swayman is a real good goaltender who is going to have a lot of success moving forward after his career at Maine is over,” said Seawolves coach Matt Curley, who was pleased with his team’s showing. “I was very happy with the way we played and very proud of the effort. This was a great example of what college hockey is all about.”
Niagara University transfer Sam Rennaker, a senior left winger, opened the scoring at the 12:11 mark of the first period but senior defenseman Tomi Hiekkavirta equalized on the power play 4:17 later.
“Whenever you have a runaway game on Friday night, they other team is going to push back on Saturday,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “The challenge is to play the same way on Saturday. We didn’t achieve that but we found a way to win the game and that’s the most important thing.”
“It was kind of an ugly win but you’ve got to find a way to pull those out,” said Fossier, a senior right wing and captain. “Collectively, it wasn’t our best effort but we did find a way to win against a team that was playing pretty desperate hockey.”
Rennaker, who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rule, notched his first goal of the season when a Doherty pass hit Adam Dawe and dropped to him. Rennaker wheeled across the top of the slot and snapped a knee-high wrist shot from the top of the left circle that sailed by the glove of Carlson.
But the lead was short-lived.
The Seawolves went on the power play and capitalized.
Anchorage won three consecutive faceoffs and, on the third one, Nick Wicks drew the puck back to Hiekkavarita at the right point.
Hiekkavrita maneuvered quickly across the shot and fired a wrister past the screened Swayman.
Doherty finished with two assists in a strange game that saw each team fail to score on a two-on-oh break and a fluke goal decide it.
“Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes. Sometimes the bounces go for your team and sometimes they don’t,” Anchorage senior defenseman Carmine Buono said.
UMaine lost sophomore defenseman Simon Butala to a possible concussion early in the first period.
On Friday night, Doherty and Tralmaks each had two goals and an assist; Dawe and J.D. Greenway had a goal and an assist each and Emil Westerlund and Fossier combined for five assists in UMaine’s win. Butala had the other goal and Swayman made 20 stops.
Alex Frye scored for Anchorage and Kristian Stead made 31 saves.
UMaine travels to Quinnipiac of Connecticut for games next Friday and Saturday nights.