Black Bear Nation FTS: Friday to Sunday

It was a critical weekend for multiple teams in Black Bear Nation.  Both the men’s hockey and women’s basketball teams had key conference road tests against opponents with whom they are jockeying for position as conference tournament season approaches.  How did they and the rest of the Black Bears fare this weekend?  Let’s get to it!

Men’s Hockey: Maine was welcomed in Beantown by tremendous support from Black Bear Nation, specificially a number of fans from our pals from the Black Bears of Boston.  Unfortunately, Maine was only able to muster one point in their weekend series with Northeastern.  As a result, the Black Bears fell to 4th in Hockey East while the Huskies lept to 3rd with just one regular season series remaining.

Friday night, the Bears and Huskies skated to an exciting, back-and-forth 4-4 draw.  After leading 2-0 early in the 2nd period behind goals from Connor Leen and Steven Swavely, Maine gave up three unanswered goals to Northeastern to find themselves trailing 3-2 with less than five minutes left in the 2nd.  However, Blaine Byron scored before the end of the period to knot the score at 3 at the second intermission and Mark Anthoine found the back of the net with 6:03 left in the game to put Maine back on top 4-3.  A win wasn’t meant to be, though, as the Black Bears once again let in a game-changing goal in the last 2 minutes and after a scoreless overtime session, each team collected a point.

Saturday was a different story, as Maine was constantly playing catch-up after falling behind 2-0 and, later, 4-2, before ultimately falling to Huskies by a final score of 4-3.  One highlight for Maine was Ben Hutton scoring his 13th goal of the season, which tied the school record for goals by a defensemen in a season. 

The weekend’s action dropped Maine to an overall record of 15-11-4 and a Hockey East record of 9-6-3.  The Black Bears wrap up their regular season campaign this coming weekend at the Alfond when they play host to Providence College.  The series begins on Friday February 28 with a 7pm puck drop.

Women’s Basketball: Much like the men’s hockey team, the women’s basketball team faced a tough road test against an opponent who was right next to them in the conference standings.  Also like their hockey counterparts, they were unable to pick up the W, as the Black Bears fell at Stony Brook on Saturday by a final score of 73-65.

After trailing by 16 points in the first half, Maine scratched and clawed their way back to take a two-point lead on the road in the second half.  The comeback was led by Ashleigh Roberts, who scored 22 points and hauled in 8 rebounds, but Maine was unable to hold on for the victory, seemingly having expended all their energy in the comeback.

The loss leaves Maine tied for fourth (with Hartford) in America East with a record of 8-6 and an overall record of 14-13.  The Black Bears have just two regular season games remaining, with the next being their final home contest.  They play host to UMass-Lowell on Wednesday February 26 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, with a tip time of 7pm.

Women’s Hockey: The women’s hockey team wrapped up their regular season in the most positive of ways – with a weekend road sweep of UConn in Storrs.  The lady Black Bears couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, as they scored three goals in the 1st period en route to a 4-1 victory Friday afternoon.  The effort was propelled by Maine’s strong power play, which was 2-3 on the night, with Kristin Gilmour and Brianne Kilgour lighting the lamp with a player advantage.

UConn attempted to turn the tables on Maine in Saturday’s contest, as the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.  The Black Bears, however, went on to score five unanswered goals to win their final regular season contest 5-2.  Maine’s comeback charge was led by Audra Richards’ hat trick and Hailey Browne’s go-ahead goal with just 47 seconds left in the game.

The weekend sweep improves Maine’s record to 7-19-5 overall and 5-13-3 in Hockey East.  The Black Bears will return to the ice on Saturday when they travel to UVM to take on the Catamounts in a single-elimination Hockey East tournament quarterfinal matchup.

Men’s Basketball: The men’s hoops team’s struggles continued on Sunday when they suffered their fifth consecutive defeat, an 83-79 home loss to Stony Brook.  Maine squandered a halftime lead and found themselves down by 13 with 5:20 to play.  A hard-fought comeback fell four points short in front of a small and relatively silent crowd at the Cross Center.  Maine was once again led by guard Xavier Pollard, who netted 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in defeat.  Forward Till Gloger also contributed 21 points for Maine, which eclipsed his previous career high by 6 points. 

The Black Bears now sit at 5-21 overall on the season and in last place in America East with a 3-11 conference record.  The men look to finish the season strong as they take on UMass-Lowell on Thursday February 27 in their final road game of the year.  Tip time is 7pm in Lowell.

Baseball: After a promising win against nationally-ranked Miami as part of their season-opening series last weekend, the Black Bear baseball team was on the wrong end of a three game sweep against Clemson in South Carolina this weekend.

Friday’s opener was Maine’s best chance at victory, as they had the tying run at the plate in the 9th inning.  However, the Black Bears failed to drive across any runs and lost the tilt by a final score of 5-2.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s games were far less competitive, as the Black Bears fell by the respective scores of 13-3 and 10-2 to the 13th-ranked Tigers.  Last weekend’s pitching hero, Scott Heath of Westbrook, was unable to replicate the dominance he showed in Miami against the Hurricanes on Sunday in Clemson.  He was roughed up for nine runs (six earned) off eight hits in just 2 1/3 innings against the Tigers.

The sweeps puts Maine’s early-season record at 1-5, a record they will look to improve when they next take the diamond on Friday February 28 at 1pm in Deland, FL against Furman.

Remember to join Fill The Steins every Sunday night at 7pm on BlogTalk Radio for our weekly podcast.  We’ll break down all the key action from the weekend in Black Bear Nation and look ahead to upcoming games, including Hockey East and America East conference tournament action.  The podcast is also archived here, so you can listen anytime if you can’t join us live.  We’ll talk to you tonight!!!

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