Goaltender Jeremy Swayman (seated) poses with UMaine men's hockey coaches (from left) Red Gendron, Alfie Michaud, Ben Guite and Scott Hillman on Tuesday as he signs his contract with the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins. Credit: Ronnie Gillis | UMaine athletics

As expected, University of Maine junior goaltender Jeremy Swayman has decided to pass up his senior year and begin his professional career in the Boston Bruins organization.

The 21-year-old Swayman, who is one of three finalists for Hockey East Player of the Year Award, signed with the Bruins on Tuesday. UMaine hockey made the announcement via its Twitter account.

He was their fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft, the 111th player chosen.

“Simply put, this has been the best three years of my life,” Swayman said. “I’ll cherish every moment I played here. The fans are unmatched.”

Earlier in the day, the native of Anchorage, Alaska, learned that he is the recipient of the Walter Brown Award presented to New England’s top American-born college player.

Swayman is likely to join the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins if the season continues. Play has been suspended by the coronavirus.

The Boston Bruins goalie tandem of Tuukka Rask (33 years old) and Jaroslav Halak (34) is aging, but they also have 22-year-old in Dan Vladar from the Czech Republic who leads the AHL in goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.936) and Max Legace, 27, whose 2.37 GAA ranks eighth.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Swayman had a tremendous season.

His .939 save percentage ranked second in Division I and his 2.07 GAA was 15th. He compiled an 18-11-5 record to lead the Black Bears to fourth place in Hockey East after they were picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches poll.

Swayman made at least 30 saves 25 times, including 14 games in which he stopped 35 or more shots. He turned in a 48-save gem in UMaine’s season-ending 1-0 win over Providence College.

His 1,099 saves led the country and set the UMaine single-season record. His .939 save percentage ranks second in school history behind longtime Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s .956 (2003-2004). His GAA ranks fourth since the inception of the program in 1977.

Swayman concluded his three years at UMaine as the school’s all-time leader in saves (3,130) and minutes played (5,906 minutes, 46 seconds). He is second in save percentage (.927) behind Howard’s .931 and fifth in GAA (2.51).

He praised his teammates, who will be lifelong friends, and said they set the bar high and created a winning culture with their competitiveness in practice.

“I came to the rink with a smile every day,” he said.

Swayman also praised the coaching staff including head coach Red Gendron, associate head coach Ben Guite, goalie coach Alfie Michaud and volunteer assistant Scott Hillman.

“They have been tremendous. I couldn’t say how many hours they put in. Their love and effort for this program is extensive,” he said.

He said he was able to improve in leaps and bounds at UMaine and enjoyed working under the guidance of Michaud.

“I can’t say enough about Alfie. He was my mentor on and off the ice,” Swayman said.

He appreciates the fan support, which extended well beyond Alfond Arena.

“It was the entire state of Maine [that supported us]. It was so special to see those Maine jerseys in the stands when we’d play in someone else’s [arena],” Swayman said. “It is amazing what the Black Bears mean across the country. It was truly an honor to play for them.”

He said his career highlight is the 1-0 Seniors Night win over Providence on March 6.

“Getting a win for the seniors who have done so much for this program is something I will definitely remember for the rest of my life,” Swayman said.