Top 5 players … so far

As we are at the halfway point, I took sometime off to enjoy the holidays. But with the Florida College Classic just days away, I’d thought I’d give my top five players, so far.

5. Mark Anthoine

The senior assistant captain is having quite the season so far, 6 goals and 7 assists totaling 13 points as he has been one of Maine’s brightspots in 2013. Early on he was the points leader for the Maine Black Bears. He saw early success including a 4-point game against Umass on October 26 before taking a dip in the month of November. He’s currently on a 3-game point streak, very disciplined as he’s only committed two penalties. He’s what defines solid veteran leadership as an assistant captain on this Black Bears team.

4. Freshmen Forward Line (Morgan-Brown-Byron)

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Cam Brown

Brian Morgan

Blaine Byron

For the #4 on my countdown I decided to do the entire freshmen line together or the Kid Line 2.0 as some call it has been together for almost all 16 games. Why do you ask? Well they’ve played well together and they’re producing. Together they’ve scored 12-17-29 as they amount to over 20% of the offense Maine has shown so far.

Brian Morgan has taken the backseat on that line, he’s played well producing a stat line of 4-3-7, but he hasn’t made the impact like Cam Brown and Blaine Byron have.

Cam Brown, for only being 5’9” he’s got some speed. He’s centers that line and distributes the puck effectively as he’s been credited with 9 assists, he’s also scored two goals including a big one against Umass-Lowell earlier this month.

The big star on this line has been Blaine Byron, the sixth-round Penguins draft pick has done nothing but impress me over the semester. He’s evenly balanced goal scoring with accumulating assists as he boasts a stat line of 6-5-11. He’s got this swagger, and he carries himself well. While he doesn’t score points on a nightly basis, he’s balanced his scoring well and continues to be a dominant force on this young Black Bears squad.

3. Ben Hutton

The co-leader in goals scored has enjoyed a great semester as his scoring has been often enough to make him #3 on my list. Similar to Anthoine, he was a leader in points and has been neck-and-neck with Devin Shore all season long. Has managed to get at least 1 point in 11 of Maine’s 16 games. The sophomore defensemen and Canucks draft pick continues to build off his successful freshman campaign. He currently is among the leaders in goal scoring among defensemen in the whole country. He leads the teams in PP goals. His offensive consistency has been key for the Black Bears, when he scores a point Maine is 7-3-1.

2. Devin Shore

The offensive MVP at the halfway point is Devin Shore. The sophomore and Stars draft pick has been getting better as the season progresses. He didn’t get off to a hot start only accumulating 2 goals in the first 5 games, but he’s been improving on his game as he’s now is on a 7-game point streak. He’s the leader in points for the team and is on quite a run recently scoring 14 points in the last seven games.

1. Martin Ouellette

The #1 overall player so far has been the man between the pipes for the Black Bears Marty. In fifteen games he’s shown no sign of a “sophomore slump” as his predecessor Dan Sullivan showed last season. He’s only allowed more than 3 goals only three times this season boasting a 2.06 GAA. He’s gotten two shutouts this season … so far (11/8 vs. Vermont, & 11/15 vs. Boston University). Marty has been the key in even Maine’s losses when you think about it. He’s kept the team in the majority of their games (on the road), unfortunately Marty doesn’t play offense as well. If Maine’s offense were to have scored a few more goals on the road, Maine would’ve won a couple of road games. He has been the X factor for Maine so far and will continuee headed into the second half which starts this weekend in Florida.

Shore Collects 6 Points in Maine Routing of AIC

Devin Shore headlined Maine’s offensive showcase against American International in a 7-1 5-1 sweep.

Coming into Friday night Gendron made a change in the lineup, he sat out Jake Rutt after his costly penalty led to a tying goal on Sunday’s game. In his place was sophomore Kyle Williams, who only played one game previous (10/12 vs. St. Lawrence).

Shore was the star of Friday's game with 5 points

Shore was the star of Friday’s game with 5 points

It took time for Maine to get settled in, a lot of back-and-forth action saw no scoring for Maine. Then 8 minutes in, Shore passed the puck up front and in the sea of bodies, Steven Swavely managed to find the puck and bury it home. Minutes later Dan Renouf fired a soft slapshot that found its way to the net giving Renouf his first career goal. Late in the first with the period winding down, Schurhamer fired a wristshot from the edge of the faceoff circle to close out the first with Maine up 3-0.

Devin Shore got on the board with the most unusual goal he will ever score. Early in the second, AIC goalie Hunter Leisner looked like he was gonna cover the puck, but at the last second tried to release it. But Shore was able to pick his pocket and score a shorthanded goal. AIC managed to get on the board with a rebound goal from a 3-on-2.

But that was all Maine would give as they flexed their offensive muscle three times in the third. Connor Leen, Mark Anthoine, and Stu Higgins all joined the goal party in the third period as Maine walked away with a 7-1 victory.

“We wanted to get off to a good start and we wanted to keep the intensity up.” Said Shore, he added, “It was that kind of night. The bounces went our way.” Gendron was pleased with his team after the game, “I thought we played hard for the entire game … We’re putting more pucks on net now.”

Red Gendron had the quote of the night.

Shore preached the importance of putting the game behind them and getting ready for game two. Certainly AIC would put up a better fight in night two if they got overconfident. Maine outshot AIC 59-21, Maine managed to get 26 Grade A chances to AIC’s 7. The defense did a great job protecting Marty as they were able to contain AIC to outside shots that weren’t challenging to Marty.

Night two saw some changes once again to the lineup, Brady Campbell checked in for Will Merchant on the fourth line, Jake Rutt returned to his defensive-pairing with Conor Riley. But the biggest one of the night was the return of Dan Sullivan in the return of #sullysaturday as my colleague Cody Beckett would tweet. Dan Sullivan started for the Black Bears, for the first time in 13 months (Nov 4 vs. UNH).

Unfortunately for Sullivan, the game didn’t get off the way he had hoped. AIC showed some explosion right at the start and just 31 seconds in Chris Porter scored on Sullivan. “We left him [Sullivan] out to dry on that goal.” The defense didn’t play great in the initial moments, but they were able to collect themselves.

98 seconds later Blaine Byron tallied the equalizer with a point-blank slapshot. AIC managed to contain the Black Bears from scoring going into the intermission tied at one. “[During the intermission] I told them they’re gonna have to figure this one out for themselves.” Said Red afterwards.

Dan Sullivan would come through in the clutch with an amazing save when him and Chris Porter were all alone. In the second period Porter was able to get a quality chance against Sullivan. He managed to make the kick save and prevented AIC from getting back in it.

One thing Maine has been successful with recently is putting pucks on the net and crashing the net. A streaking Stu Higgins collected a rebound and just managed to squeeze one by Ryan Kerpan to give Maine the lead. Less than two minutes later Ryan Lomberg fired a backhand shot off a rebound that went five-hole. Maine would tally two goals in the third, Brian Morgan and Ryan Lomberg put this one away in Maine’s sweep of AIC with a 5-1 victory on night two. Note, Devin Shore got the assist on Lomberg’s second goal to extend his point streak to 7 games.

Gendron complimented “That [Anthoine-Higgins-Lomberg] line was obviously our top line tonight … They threw pucks to the net low and went for the rebounds.” Gendron followed that up with praise to Lomberg’s play, “It was great seeing him have a night like that. It was certainly something he’s capable of doing. It took him the whole semester to do it but it’s way better that it’s happening now rather than in the second semester.” Ryan Lomberg got 3 points from two goals and an assist in the victory earning himself the first star of the game.

Maine outshot AIC 44-19, and got 23 Grade A opportunities in the game.

As the semester winds down at the University of Maine, Maine ends their semester with a three-game winning streak. “It’s a nice way to end the semester…on a high note” Said Devin Shore, who has been the star for the Black Bears through 16 games. His six points went a long way for the Black Bears as he assisted on 5 of the 11 goals (He scored a goal, which I didn’t count).

Other stars over the weekend include Connor Leen who on Friday got four points off one goal and three assists, on night two he was awarded a penalty shot which he missed. Mark Anthoine also got 4 points from a goal and 3 assists on both nights.

Overall, there’s not much to say about this weekend, this was a series Maine was supposed to win. They did that, it was nice to see Devin Shore continue to thrive as he has had quite the sophomore campaign and is seeing his hard work rewarded as he leads the team in points and tied for leading goal scorer (Ben Hutton).

It was refreshing to see Dan Sullivan in net as I remember flashbacks of my freshmen year (2011-12) when Sully was the man for the Black Bears. Obviously this wasn’t an impressive opponent, but it has been an ongoing discussion of how long we’d see Marty in net. With the stretch of games that Maine has coming up, it was nice to see Marty work the clipboard for a night. I only hope that Sully will see some more action before Boston (1/11), when I assume Red will plug-in Ouellette for the rest of the season.

Maine will have next weekend off as this week is finals week, next week they’ll travel to Estero, FL in a holiday tournament that they host along with Cornell called the Florida College Classic. They’ll play Princeton in the first round, then play the winner/loser of Cornell/UNH depending on how Maine does, I’ll have updates for that.

As it is the official halfway point, I quickly reflect on this team with its 9-6-1 (4-2-1 HE) record. This team has re-established their home dominance boasting a 9-1 record at home. Problem is they’ve shown some road woes with a 0-5-1 record away from Orono. While the Florida College Classic is neutral, the next 5 games (that count) after that are all road games (Quinnipiac, BU, Lowell, BC, & UNH).

Check in over the next week as I’ll have some midseason posts about grades and ranks about the UMaine Black Bears as they have 13 calendar days before the Florida College Classic.

It’s Yellow Jacket Season

The Black Bears will welcome the American International Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Hockey conference for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday.

As I look at this matchup, I can just see Daffy Duck saying, “Boy, am I a Yellow Jacket!” that’s the feeling I’m getting coming into this matchup. The 3-10 Yellow Jackets are coming in having lost seven straight games and that streak sounds like it’s gonna continue as they travel to one of the best home-ice teams in the country right now, the Maine Black Bears.

The Black Bears are coming off their seventh home victory against the then #7 Umass-Lowell Riverhawks 4-2 on Sunday. Despite Lowell giving Maine their all, a costly penalty gave Maine the advantage they needed as freshman Blaine Byron scored his fifth goal of the season. Maine’s powerplay was the strongest part of their game as they score three of their four goals on the powerplay, the other one being an empty-net tally. Martin Ouellette was phenomenal stopping 26 of 28 shots earning him the third star of the game.

“The power play came through and we played pretty well defensively against one of the best teams in the country,” said Gendron, who has been preaching better even-strength play in recent weeks. Certainly while even strength offense is still suffering a little, they’ll get quite the tune-up this weekend against American International.

Alexander MacMillan

Alexander MacMillan

We now take a look at the Yellow Jackets, the woeful team from the Atlantic Hockey conference that is currently in the middle of a tail-spin. They just came off a 3-2, 5-2 defeat from RIT as they just can’t seem to figure it out. The one bright spot American International has is there Junior forward Alexander MacMillan who’s their leading goal scorer with a stat line of 8-6-14. Their goaltending is atrocious as they average giving up 5 goals a game. Their goaltending is led by two freshmen that have played 6 games, Hunter Leisnar and Ty Reichenbach. Neither has faired well as the Yellow Jackets just can’t seem to figure it out.

Most recently American International played Lowell a week-and-a-half ago, in which they got creamed 6-1. They just can’t figure it out, 29-year head coach Gary Wright  who seems like he’ll be there forever. You have to feel a little bad for this team that hasn’t finished higher than 8th in their hockey conference. But they’re sort of those lovable losers that gets beat up on year in and year out.

Despite my lack of correct predictions, I’m gonna put my prediction this way. With a team like American Int’l that averages giving up five goals a game, it’s not as much as will they win? but more of how much will they win by? My over/under is 4.5 goals for Maine on each night, for anyone that wants to play at home, leave a comment or tweet at me @aquirko with your prediction. I’m gonna say one night they’ll score four goals, the other night they score seven goals. I’m gonna say this is gonna be a fun weekend, just before I need to hit the books for finals.

Stay tuned for a recap of this weekend’s series on Sunday or Monday, we’ll see how this weekend goes. You can hear the games as Cody Beckett, Whitneigh Kinne, and myself will have the call both nights from the Alfond on WMEB 91.9 fm, not sure if we’re doing it on WMEB Plus so those not in the immediate Orono area can hear the game.

WMEB 91.9 FM, will have the game. Tune in Fri & Sat night at 7:00

WMEB 91.9 FM, will have the game. Tune in Fri & Sat night at 7:00

Reader’s Guide to the Fans of Maine Hockey, Part V: Screamin’ Black Bears Pep Band

For my concluding part of this Reader’s Guide series, I decided to talk about something that has helped provide the energy for the great fans of Maine Hockey, the pep band.

While I wasn’t able to find when the pep band first formed, they’ve been around for quite a long time. I was able to talk to two different people from the pep band, Grace Gould (tenor sax in Band B) and the director of the pep band Christopher White.

One thing to note about the pep band, it is a class. The class can be taken for 1 credit, or none at the choice of the student when signing up for the class.

First I talked to Grace Gould, whom I’ve known for quite a long time, and is currently dating her. She plays tenor sax for Band B in the Screaming Black Bears pep band. This is her first year in the pep band this year.

“One of the primary functions of the pep band is for the Alfond to never be silent. We always try to keep the crowd going.” It’s very evident as the band is seated in the balcony along with the students, it helps project the noise all around the arena creating quite the atmosphere for a college hockey game.

“The band itself is responsible for about 80 pieces of music … We have rehearsals weekly starting in mid-to-late September. By mid-November, rehearsals are determined on a week-by-week basis dependent on if there are any games that week.”

The last thing I asked her if she had a favorite memory so far as a member of the pep band. “The BC game (11/23), Maine scored a lot of goals, most of us couldn’t pickup our music fast enough for the Stein Song. I think it was the third goal (Ryan Lomberg’s goal), none of us had our music for the stein song, we muttled our way through it and did all the motions. Mr. White looks at us and said, ‘that was the worst Stein Song I ever heard. By the end of the game, they should’ve scored enough goals that you’ll have this memorized.’”

I had talked to Grace previously as part of a Sonic ID project in one of my journalism classes, here it is:

Here’s a video of the band performing the “bud song” that has been altered to “You’ve Said It All” for Maine purposes. Thanks to Mike Fletcher for the video.

Next I talked to the director of the Pep Band, Christopher White, who has been directing the pep band since 1992. “When I got here, there was 2 bands, a hockey band and a basketball band. There were 55 kids signed up for hockey, only 3 signed up for basketball. That changed where I formed a Band A and Band B that alternates all events we’re responsible for (Men’s Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Basketball).”

The name came a few years before White got there. From heresay, he said that a student named Pete pitched the name “Pete something, and the Screaming Black Bears band”, while the name was rejected, they did like the Screaming Black Bears pep band name, so that’s where it came from. He has a great story from his first year as Pep Band Director.

“My first year was 1992-93, which was the national championship, that was memorable in several aspects. As Maine made it to the Frozen Four that year, I received a phone call from the NCAA in Wisconsin (where the Frozen Four was held). The women said that Wisconsin didn’t make the tournament, she requested that we [Maine] play On Wisconsin (Wisconsin’s School Song) and a song called Bud. Maine was playing Michigan and since Wisconsin hates Michigan, it would mean a lot to them”

Many people from Wisconsin had purchased tickets thinking the Badgers would make it, but Wisconsin was eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Michigan. “I thought about it and wasn’t sure if it felt right, I mean playing another school’s song, who does that? On the flight to Milwaukee, I sat behind none other than Shawn Walsh. I asked him about playing On Wisconsin, he thought it was a good idea and that they [pep band] should do this.” He got to the hotel and called the woman back, she had the music ready to fax him right there at the hotel right then, “The fax machine lit up as the music came through. The guy at the desk asked what I was doing, I told him and he thought it was a good idea, they loaned out the ballroom for us to rehearse.”

Then came the moment of truth, “We get to the Bradley Center, Michigan plays their fight song, it was surreal cause it was just like what you hear on TV. We play the Stein Song, Michigan plays another song, I said, ‘lets see what happens.’ We play On Wisconsin, I had never seen anything like it, there was a quick hush, followed by a roar from the crowd, it was a sea of red and white jerseys. We almost stopped playing cause it was so loud. It was amazing to feel the whole crowd support us.”

“Later we played the Bud song, which I admit, we stole it from Wisconsin. That [1992-93] was the year it happened.” The Bud Song would be changed to You’ve Said It All sometime in the late 90′s. Many articles were written in the local Wisconsin papers about their performance and how it may have had an impact on the game. “It was an amazing moment in Maine history, as well as college sports history, not often does one school play another school’s song. Two radio stations interviewed me live during the first period asking me why I did it. It made a huge impression.” Years later, when the Frozen Four returned to Milwaukee in 06, Maine was there and people went up to Mr. White and told them how much they liked what the band did all those years back.

An important question to ask is, did the band actually affect the outcome? “If you believe the audience was a factor, and since every newspaper wrote about it, I guess you could say we did. It goes both ways, but I think it starts on the ice.” Mr. White refuses to ever take credit that the band is directly responsible for the difference in games, mainly cause if the team lost, people might think the band had something to do with it.

Over White’s 22 years, the band has traveled coast-to-coast, like most notably in 1999 for the National Championship in Anaheim. “You play your closest rival in the farthest place away that you could play against each other.

The band performs at TD Garden circa 2012

The band performs at TD Garden circa 2012

The team has traveled to California twice (Anaheim and Santa Barbara); Missoula, MT (04 NCAA B-Ball tournament); Durham and Raleigh, NC (98 B-Ball Tournament), Charlottesville, NC (96 B-Ball tournament); Baton Rouge, LA; and Boston several times, just to name a few. “I tell my students in pep band, this is the only place at UMaine that offers the most amount of travel. The possibility of travel is motivation for these students.”

The location of the band at Alfond Arena was not always in the balcony as we see today. Initially after the Alfond was expanded, the band was seated in the back of section PPP (now known today as section OO). The sound didn’t always do great as you could imagine playing in a corner of the arena, plus the students were in sparse locations so while it was rocking, it could’ve been better. “After a series of meetings, we [the university] decided to move the students and the band into the balcony. I think that decision made the Alfond even more electric than it already was to then. That was when songs like the Hey Song began to take off [at Alfond Arena].

We moved on, talking about some of the music at the Alfond, “The Alfond is a very superstitious place. One year I decided to stop playing Gimme Some Luvin and played something different. After a half a year, the fan forum on firstclass wondered what happened to the song that went Ba-da-da-da-da-Bop. I was like what? But then realized he was talking about Gimme Some Luvin. Nowadays, I’m afraid to change something, we play the same four songs in our pre-game setlist.”

In terms of songs you hear during the game and intermissions, varies from all different eras/genres/etc. Whether it’s a rendition of Sweet Caroline, Don’t Stop Believin’, Livin on a Prayer, Unbelievable, to more recent hits like Party Rock Anthem, and Gangnam Style. “One thing all collegiate pep bands do is try to be relevant. When we played Gangnam Style, that song was hot, Louie Louie wouldn’t have had the same effect. I’m always in search of the next big thing, cause you never know where it’s gonna come from, it might come from behind you.” He added, “I can’t play everything I played 10 years ago, some songs stick but most don’t. When the crowd is singing louder than the band, that’s a good sign.”

One thing that is integral to the band’s performances is communication. Mr. White wears a headset so he can communicate with the PA people. “Sometimes they’ll be like ‘We need to read this one paragraph, then you’re on’.” Another thing that’s important is that when the puck is dropped, the band needs to stop or the team would be assessed a penalty. “That has never happened to me in my 22 years, nor do I want it to happen. I have been warned in basketball before, but never penalized.

Lastly he added about the Maine fans, “I love the energy, with the band, I take that energy , and provide it with direction.”

In my personal opinion, I’ve enjoyed the pep band, some of my favorite Maine memories involve the pep band. My first example I think of was back to my Freshman year, Maine was hosting BC and they were down by one goal late in the third (5 minutes left). Maine calls a timeout, the pep band decides to play the Stein Song, I along with everybody else in the student section sang our school’s song, 30 seconds later Adam Shemansky notches the tying goal and the place erupted. I believe the same thing happened against Alabama-Huntsville two weeks later, just I always love the late timeouts that lead to the band playing the Stein Song. Most recently back in February when BU came to town, it was my first game at the Alfond (as a fan) in two months and with Maine in the middle of coming back from a 3-goal deficit late, the pep band played the Stein Song, after getting the crowd involved, Maine managed to tally the tying goal with and the place went nuts.

Time and time again, the pep band reminds me of everything that’s good about Maine hockey, their music helps create the atmosphere that’s been praised by many in the college hockey community. After I leave this university, every time I return, one thing I’ll look forward to is the pep band.

Thus concludes my 5 part Reader’s Guide series about fans of Maine hockey. It has been a real treat over the last few weeks talking to so many different people that helped contribute to this. With this I’m done with reader guides, I will continue my weekly recaps and previews posting each week. I might throw some other posts in between, I will have time to figure that out, until next time, thanks for reading and Go Blue.

Black Bears Take Care of Business … At Home

The Black Bears racked up their 7th victory in a thriller that came down to the final few minutes against the #6/7 Lowell Riverhawks.

The Black Bears got off to a hot start just five minutes in, while on the powerplay freshman Cam Brown fired a shot that went past Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to make the score 1-0. “Brownie’s shot was a great shot.” Said Gendron after the game.

Ben Hutton scores his team leading 7th goal on the season

Ben Hutton scores his team leading 7th goal on the season

Minutes later, Maine found themselves back on the powerplay and they made Lowell pay. On a odd man rush, Devin Shore found a streaking Ben Hutton who fired a wristshot high glove-side on Hellebuyck to make it 2-0 Maine. Hutton’s goal made him the leading goal scorer among defensemen in college hockey with his 7th goal of the season.

Those two goals seemed to light a fire under Lowell’s bench as they came out firing on the Black Bears showing no mercy. While it took Marty laying down, Lowell finally found the back of the net with Derek Arnold scoring making it 2-1 Maine after one period.

Lowell ties it

Lowell ties it

Lowell took that momentum and flat out was the better team in the second period. While they got off half the shots the Black Bears did, they were great at puck possession keeping Maine pinned in their defensive zones for great period of time. This led to certain frustration on some Maine players as Jake Rutt got called for interference late in the second. Lowell capitalized instantly as Ryan McGrath scored the equalizer just 5 seconds after the penalty to tie it up at 2 headed into the intermission. “They’re very good offensively.”

Red didn’t seem pleased with Rutt’s play, as Jake Rutt sat on the bench during the 3rd period. That means a short bench for the defensemen, they would be tested. Maine was able to battle back and get chances, both teams were close to scoring, their was a puck that pin balled near Marty, but he managed to stop it. Maine got a lucky break in the third period, Michael Kapla’s tripping penalty with 5 minutes left was the spark Maine needed.

With about three and a half minutes to go and with no one to pass it to, Blaine Byron fired a soft shot on the net, the puck trickled through Hellebuyck and went into the net.

“It hit my pads and took a weird bounce off my glove and went backwards.” -Connor Hellebuyck

“You put it on the net anything can happen. As Wayne Gretzky once said, you don’t score 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Red Gendron

“I thought I’d take a shot on net and hope for the best, and it [the puck] went in.” – Blaine Byron

Jon Swavely would tally an empty net goal to seal Maine’s victory with a score of 4-2. Maine improves to 7-6-1 on the season and 4-2-1 in Hockey East play.

Maine celebrates yet another home victory

Maine celebrates yet another home victory

Gendron praised the play of his defense and goaltending, “We did a better job blocking shots … Marty came up with a few phenomenal saves.” Maine’s defense blocked 15 shots in the game, with a majority coming in the second period

Devin Shore has found himself on quite a roll as of lately, he now is on a 5-game point streak. He said after the game, “That’s a huge win for us, in a one-game weekend it’s swept of be swept.”

While Maine is still showing signs of their road woes, we have to look at the bright side, Maine is continuing to win at home. Maine is 7-1-0 so far, compared to last season when Maine was 0-6-2 at this time last year. “We’ve come a long way … It hasn’t been easy.” said Shore.

I think Martin Ouellette put it best with this statement, “We [Maine] gotta learn from this and repeat it [winnning] on the road.” While these impressive victories at home are racking up, it won’t be till I see some W’s on the road that I can call this team a legitimate threat.

Maine currently sits in fourth in the Hockey East Standings

Lowell will get the week off before playing in the Catamount Cup in Burlington, VT over break. The Black Bears will host American International for two games on Friday and Saturday, check back later this week for a preview of that matchup.

Maine Returns to the Alfond to Host Lowell

Maine will return home to the Alfond as they host the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks on Sunday.

Maine vs. Lowell: Sunday @ 4pm

Maine vs. Lowell: Sunday @ 4pm

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but due to the playoff game for the Maine Black Bears football team that was scheduled for Saturday at 2 pm, Maine found it best to move it to another day. That day became Sunday, oddly enough the last time Lowell and Maine played in Orono was on Super Bowl Sunday.

Maine's record broken down

Maine’s record broken down by home and road

Maine’s woes on the road continues as they were swept in a non-conference series against Vermont over Thanksgiving break as they lost 3-2 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday. Devin Shore and Steven Swavely were the lone goal scorers for Maine’s four goals, each contributing two. Maine’s problem on night one wasn’t finishing strong as Vermont’s Chris Muscoby tallied the game-winner with 2:49 left in the game. On night two Maine started strong, but once the third came around they fell flat on their faces as they allowed four third period goals (granted two were empty-netters, but still). One thing that killed Maine on Saturday was that they rang the goal posts three times (margin of the score) in the game. Coach Red Gendron said after Saturday’s loss, “We weren’t bad but we didn’t do what we needed to do, man-for-man, to win … Winning on the road is hard. Everybody has to be razor-sharp. Everybody has to play well. You can’t have anybody taking the night off.”

Maine lacked that effort we saw against BU and BC, but there’s one thing too that, those games were at home. Maine is 0-5-1 on the road this season and 6-1-0 at home. Coach Gendron told the BDN on Monday, “In our six road games, we were in position to win five of them in the third period … We aren’t far off. We have to do more little things perfectly.” Winning on the road will come, but the problem is when, I jokingly remarked on WMEB’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct Tuesday that Maine focused so hard on winning at home, they forgot how to win on the road.

But eventually Maine is bound to win one on the road, though it won’t be easy. They remaining road games include games at the Florida College Classic, Quinnipiac, BU (technically neutral, but it’s in Boston), Lowell, BC, Notre Dame, and Northeastern, all great teams in Hockey East so Maine will have it rough down the road.

Devin Shore’s two goals keeps him as the leading scorer on the team as he’s racked up a 6-6-12 stats through 13 games, he’s tied with Ben Hutton for leading goal scorer. Between the pipes Marty didn’t play bad, he stopped 48 of 54 shots. Gendron if anything was critical of his defense for not helping Marty too much as they were out of position when Maine gave up the game-winner on Friday and Saturday night. But I expect Gendron to busted some keisters in practice this week.

Adam Chapie

Adam Chapie

Now we turn to the Lowell Riverhawks, a team that has had some rest as they didn’t play over Thanksgiving break, but they did play on Tuesday, in which they destroyed American International 6-1. Sophomore Adam Chapie is the leading scorer for the Riverhawks with a 7-4-11 stat line. He’s followed behind by seniors Derek Arnold (6-4-10) and Joseph Pendenza (5-5-10). The goaltenders for the Riverhawks have been Connor Hellebuyck and Doug Carr. Both goaltenders have been phenomenal with both boasting a GAA that is less than 2.00. Hellebuyck has seen more games as he’s played in 9 of the 15 games so far this season, but definitely Coach Norm Bazin looks like he could go to either goaltender and be confident in his choice. Though from what I’ve heard, I’m expecting Hellebuyck in net for the Riverhawks.

The #7 Lowell Riverhawks (11-4-0 overall, 4-1-0 conference) have been on a roll as of late, winning their last 6 straight games including a sweep of Notre Dame two weeks ago. Their season also includes victories over Michigan St and Michigan in the Big Ten/Hockey East challenge back in October, and a sweep of UNH. This is one of the toughest teams, at the time that will come to Maine, though BC came in undefeated in their last 7 games, but Lowell has been a more difficult team for Maine over the last few years.

Maine's season ended on this play. Photo courtesy of BDN

Maine’s season ended on this play. Photo courtesy of BDN

Last year’s season series saw Lowell winning 3-2-0 over three different weekends. First back in November 2012 Maine and Lowell split the series at Lowell. Then on Super Bowl Sunday Maine defeated Lowell in OT to win their first game at home that season. Lastly in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, they met in Lowell with the Riverhawks sweeping the Black Bears out of the playoffs in a heartbreaker for the Black Bears.

This series has been contentious in recent seasons with Lowell having the upper hand in recent years. But it remains to be seen what will happen Sunday afternoon, the team that’s streaking versus the team that is almost perfect at home, it’s a great matchup for the fans.

In terms of a prediction I’m giving it a low score, both goalies (Ouellette and Hellebuyck) are fantastic and will be the difference in this contest. It’s a big staring contest and the question becomes, who’s going to blink first? I think Marty will blink, 2-1 Lowell is my prediction.

Check back in to the UMaine Hockey Beat next week when I’ll have the concluding parts of my Reader’s Guide to Maine Hockey on Monday and Wednesday, I’ll also have a recap of this game and a preview of American International. Feel free to comment, tweet, or email anything.

Also go MAINE FOOTBALL