The University of Maine Black Bears began the 2020-21 season with a 2-1 shootout victory at New Hampshire on Friday night.

Returning to the ice for the first time since mid-March, Maine was able to grab two points in a game that doubled as the season-opener, but also a countable Hockey East conference game.

UNH controlled the majority of the game and had more than twice as many shots on goal (38 compared to Maine's 16) in the contest.

The game's goals were separated by just 32 seconds in the third period. UNH broke the scoreless tie through Kalle Erickson's goal at 12:42 of the 3rd period. That effort was quickly equalized by Maine, as Lynden Breen - a freshman making his debut for the Black Bears - finished off a sublime move. The goal was assisted by the skillful passing of Adam Dawe and Eduards Tralmaks.

Sophomore goalie Matthew Thiessen got the start in net for the Black Bears and was tasked with filling the shoes of Hobey Baker-finalist Jeremy Swayman, who signed with the Boston Bruins after last season was cut short. Thiessen stood on his head to keep Maine in the game, stopping 35-of-36 shots in regulation and overtime, before saving 3-of-5 shots in the shootout. Thiessen played just one game a year ago as a freshman while serving as the understudy to Swayman.

Following the scoreless 3-on-3 overtime period, the sides faced off in a shootout to decide the outcome, a rule newly adopted this season for Hockey East conference games.

Breen and fellow freshman Donavan Villeneuve-Houle found the back of the net for Maine in the shootout, before Simon Butala's game-winner lifted the Black Bears in the 5th round.

With the win, the Black Bears join Boston College a top the very early Hockey East standings, as B.C. defeated UConn 4-3 in OT Friday night. UNH earns a point for the shootout loss and is level with UConn.

Maine and UNH will meet on the "big sheet" again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on NESN+.

Check out the highlights from Friday's win, below -

Sophomore goalie Matt Thiessen's huge game in goal guided the Black Bears to victory.


Freshman Lyndon Breen scored his first career goal to get the Black Bears on the board in the 2020-21 season.