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Maine Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 3-6-3 (2-3-3) Hockey East 8th

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#8 Maine Black Bears 7-4-4 (5-3-2) Hockey East 5th

UMass will close out the fall semester of hockey today with an afternoon game in Orono and a chance to pull themselves to .500 in the conference.  Playing at Maine is never easy though, especially given the talent on this current Black Bear team.  Yet, UMass has had success against them in recent years, winning 10 of the last 14 matchups.  A win would bring UMass into 7th place having games in hand over all other Hockey East teams.

Maine just picked up only their fourth loss of the year on Friday when they dropped an overtime decision to UNH in a game that they led by two in the third.  For the most part Maine does not have any bad losses, with their others coming at Michigan State and a sweep at the hands of Boston College.  They do have some surprising ties however, specifically ones to Vermont, Providence, and UConn.

Maine’s offense is one of the top in the country, putting up 3.53 goals on the scoreboard per game.  Surprisingly it’s not Gustav Nyquist who is leading the Black Bear offense but fellow junior Spencer Abbott who has 11 goals and 10 assists so far.  Nyquist is actually tied for 3rd on the team in goals with 6.  Sophomore Joey Diamond has put up 8 so far. 

Defensively Maine has gotten good play from Josh Van Dyk and sophomore Mike Cornell.  What’s been most interesting to watch for Maine so far this year though has been the revolving door in net.  All three Maine goaltenders have started at least 3 games so far this season.  Freshman Dan Sullivan has played the most, starting 8 games and putting up stats of 2.62 GAA and .885 save percentage.  Sophomore Shawn Sirman has put up nearly identical 2.61 GAA in four starts while freshman Martin Oullette has a 2.25 GAA in 3 starts.  Oullette started Friday’s game against UNH.

For UMass it’s keep doing what they’ve been doing.  And that has been to get contributions from a host of players.  Over this recent four game unbeaten streak eight different UMass players have scored, with six of them getting multiple goals in that stretch.  Five of those goal scorers have been freshmen and three have been defensemen.  UMass has averaged over four goals scored per game in that time.

Defensively there has been improvement as well, with UMass only giving up an average of two goals per game.  Much of that has been due to Paul Dainton playing some of the best hockey of his career.  But there has been improved play in front of him as well.  Probably most improved however has been the penalty kill which has been successful 83% of the time, with one of the three power play goals let in coming at the end of a lengthy extra man advantage by Lowell. 

This Maine game is an interesting one, as it will show just how far UMass has come.  Of their three wins none has come against a competitive team.  They also have yet to win away from the Mullins Center.  Dainton said they’re planning on treating this game like a playoff game so they can reach their goal of being .500 in the league before Christmas. 

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Dick Baker has a feature on Troy Power.

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