The University of Maine men’s hockey team plays an annual game in Portland, and the first time he played there, Eduards Tralmaks did not think much of it.

Now, the Black Bears forward is quite comfortable at Cross Insurance Arena.

For the second straight year, Tralmaks scored the winner in Maine’s victory in Portland – this one a 3-2 decision over Nebraska Omaha on Saturday afternoon, before 3,923.

Tralmaks broke a 2-2 tie with a rebound goal at 17:16 of the third period. Last year, Tralmaks’ overtime goal beat Yale, 4-3.

“But the first time I played here (as a sophomore), we lost to BU 7-zip,” he said.

Tralmaks, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior forward, was not in the lineup his freshman year in Portland. He has come on since. After his three-point performance Saturday, Tralmaks leads the team in goals (11) and is third in points (18).

Maine improved to 10-8-4, while the Mavericks dropped to 8-9-3.
Saturday’s noon game followed a 6 p.m. game Friday in Orono (a 2-2 tie). The quick turnaround was necessitated by both Omaha’s travel plans and the Maine Mariners’ evening game at the arena.

“Both teams were tired, but we gutted it out,” Maine Coach Red Gendron said.

Sam Rennaker scored Maine’s other goal. Mitchell Fossier (team-leading 25 points) assisted on all three scores, and Tim Doherty (20 points) had two assists. Jeremy Swayman followed his 41-save performance Friday with a 32-save effort Saturday. Omaha outshot Maine 34-27.

“I liked our chances,” Omaha Coach Mike Gabinet said. “I thought we had a couple of good looks. But they have a world-class goaltender. You almost need that perfect play to score.”

Omaha took a 1-0 lead in a fairly even first period. On a 3-on-2 rush, Ryan Brushett passed back to defenseman John Schuldt in the slot. He buried a wrister through a crowd at 14:50.

In the second period, Maine tied it, took the lead, and then lost it.

Rennaker was penalized for roughing – one of three Maine penalties in the period (all killed by the Black Bears). The Black Bears were in transition when Rennaker came out of the box, and he skated in on a breakaway. His initial shot was blocked, but he backhanded the rebound through the five-hole at 10:01.

The goal energized the Black Bears and they kept coming, cycling in the Mavericks’ zone. Tralmaks dropped a pass to Doherty in the right circle, and Doherty passed to Fossier, who passed back to Doherty. His shot resulted in a rebound that Tralmaks converted for a 2-1 lead at 13:19.

“Eddie Tralmaks is a prototypical power forward,” Gendron said. “Great size and strength and a pair of soft hands around net.”

The Mavericks tied it 2-2 when Tristan Keck scored through a scrum at 16:29. In the third period, Keck almost gave Omaha the lead, lifting a rebound, but Swayman moved quickly to block it.

In the closing minutes, Fossier took a distant shot, and Tralmaks was there for the rebound.

“Just a dirty goal. That’s who we are,” Gendron said. “We placed an additional emphasis on just getting pucks to the net. It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just throw it at the net from anywhere.”

Tralmaks agreed: “We were pretty tired that shift. Just wanted to shoot everything to the net. It bounced off the goalie and I just put it home.”

NOTES: Gendron took a timeout with 11 minutes to play after Maine sent a puck over the glass. The Black Bears’ fourth line was out against Omaha’s top line and Gendron wanted to make a change. … Maine plays an exhibition game Saturday in Orono against the USA Hockey Development Team. The rest of the schedule will be Hockey East games. Maine is 4-6-2 in the league. … Omaha continues its extensive travel. The Mavericks, who finished December at Arizona State, are at North Dakota next weekend.

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