Black Bear Nation FTS: Friday to Sunday

It’s been a very busy week here in Fill The Steins Nation.  As you may have heard (since we tweeted about it around 300 times this week), we’re launching the premiere episode of the Fill The Steins Podcast, presented by our friends and partners at University Credit Union.  The show is live this and every Sunday at 7pm ET.  If you can’t join us real-time, you can always catch up on the show in the Archives section of our website.  Here’s hoping you have just as much fun listening to it as we’ve had preparing it.

Now, on to more important matters at hand…this weekend’s action on the field in Black Bear Nation.  Our podcast isn’t the only thing that’s making its debut this weekend…the Maine baseball team hit the diamond for the start of their regular season against the nationally-ranked Hurricanes of Miami.  They joined both the men’s & women’s hockey and basketball teams in the most crowded weekend of action so far in the spring semester.  Yeah, right…spring.

Anyway, regardless of what season the calendar tells us it is, it’s always Black Bear season here at Fill The Steins.  So here’s your quick ‘n dirty recap of this weekend’s results in the “FTS: Friday to Sunday”…

Men’s Hockey: The Maine men did exactly what they needed to do to try and stay on the right side of NCAA tournament bubble…win two home games against Hockey East cellar-dwellers Merrimack.  It may not have been easy, pretty, or stress-free, but the weekend sweep of the Warriors pushed the Black Bears’ record to 15-10-3 overall and 9-5-2 in Hockey East, good enough for third place in the conference. 

Ryan Lomberg was the hero on Friday night, as he scored both goals in Maine’s 2-1 victory.  Saturday, Connor Leen saved the day by scoring off a tipped Devin Shore shot with 28 seconds left in regulation to give the Black Bears a 3-2 win. 

With just four regular season games remaining, Maine returns to the ice on Friday in Boston for what will be a HUGE weekend series against Hockey East’s fourth place team, the Northeastern Huskies.  The puck drops at 7pm both nights.

Baseball: Because Maine winters aren’t exactly conducive to playing baseball, the Black Bears always need to begin their season with a LONG road trip, mostly in the southeastern part of the United States.  After this week’s wild storms, spending a weekend in Miami may not sound so bad, but matters were complicated by the fact the Black Bears had to contend with the Miami Hurricanes, who entered the season ranked 13th in the nation, in a 3-game season-opening series. 

Despite coming in as underdogs, the Bears accounted for themselves very well, earning a win on Saturday night, while dropping the Friday and Sunday tilts to begin their season 1-2.  The unquestionable star of the weekend for the Black Bears was Westbrook native Scott Heath, who pitched seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball in Saturday’s victory.  Heath was relieved by Jacob Gosselin-Deschesnes, who pitched two scoreless innings to earn the save and preserve the 3-1 win.  After dropping Friday’s opener 6-3, Maine was unable to pull out Sunday’s rubber match, losing 11-2 in the series finale.

Maine returns to action against another perennial ACC baseball power, the Clemson Tigers, on Friday February 21.  First pitch is scheduled for 4pm.

Women’s Basketball: The Lady Black Bears lost another heartbreaker on Sunday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, dropping a 58-56 result to Albany.  After leading 56-55 with 27.4 seconds to go, the Great Danes scored the game-winning basket with 15.7 seconds to play, then added a late free throw to make their final margin of victory two points.  When one considers that Albany is undefeated in conference play and 23-3 overall, it’s hard to classify this loss as anything but “very respectable”.

Maine was led by Cherrish Wallace, who scored 16 points and dished out 5 assists in defeat.  Despite the loss, the Black Bears overall record is still an admirable 14-12.  Even with three games remaining in the season, that win total represents 10 more wins than the team had all of last season under Coach Barron, which marks the best turnaround in all of women’s college basketball. 

In America East play, Maine sits at 8-5, good enough for fourth place in the conference.  The first of their aforementioned three remaining games is Saturday February 22 at third place Stony Brook.  The Bears will be looking for a critical road win to build momentum heading in to the conference tournament.

Men’s Basketball: The men’s stuggles on the hardcourt continued this weekend, as they dropped another conference road game, this time to Albany, by the final score of 74-63.  Maine dug themselves a hole in the first half they simply couldn’t climb out of, as they went into the halftime locker room trailing their hosts 47-27 and they could never quite recover.

The Black Bears were led by forward Ethan Mackey, who notched his first career double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Zarko Valjarevic, who topped all Maine scorers with 15 points.  Their efforts couldn’t keep Maine from falling to 5-20 overall and 3-10 in America East, where they currently sit in last place in the conference standings.

Maine faces another tough test next Sunday, when they return home to face America East’s second place team, Stony Brook, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.  Tip time for that contest is 2pm.

Women’s Hockey: The Maine women closed out the home portion of their season with a pair of 4-1 defeats at the Alfond to Boston College, the seventh-ranked team in the nation.  While the final scores were the same, the complexion of each game was quite different.  On Saturday, the Black Bears were undone in the second period, when they were outscored 3-1 by the Eagles.  On Sunday, it was a somewhat different story.  After holding the score 0-0 through two periods, Maine was beaten 4-1 in the final frame to lead to the end result.

Maine’s goal-scorers were Kayla Kaluzny on Saturday and Brittney Huneke on Sunday.  With the pair of defeats, Maine falls to 5-19-5 on the year, while BC clinched the regular season Hockey East title with the weekend sweep. 

The Black Bears will close out their regular season with two games at UConn, the first of which is Saturday afternoon at 2pm.

Remember to listen to the premiere of the Fill The Steins Podcast Sunday at 7pm, with replays available all the time on our site.  Our first guest will be Whitneigh Kinne, color commentator for the Maine men’s ice hockey team and subject of the most recent FTS Q&A;.  We can’t wait for Whitneigh and all the rest of you, our loyal followers, to grab a pint and Fill The Steins with us each and every week!

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