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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. 

Δ

Dick Baker has a feature on Troy Power.

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8 Comments

  1. Adam Schultz made the crazy drive up and I sent the flag with him. God Speed.

    I’d say this winning this game will help us get over the horrible start we had to this season, but losing this game is going to dig us into a pretty big hole.

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    • Jeff

       /  December 12, 2010

      Hope he made it ok, just got back from NH the driving sucks, spinouts all over the place.

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    • justin

       /  December 12, 2010

      I don’t think losing this game makes our hole an y bigger than it already was. We’ve got at least one game in hand on everyone else in the league, including 3 on the team directly ahead of us in the standings. It would have been great to steal a point (or two) this weekend, but it’s not the end of the world. I think this team is actually in decent shape to challenge for the top of the shitheap at the bottom of HE this year. There are 5 good teams and 5 heavily flawed teams, and UMass may be capable of being the best ‘bad’ team in the league this year. Given our defections and near unanimous selection for the 9-10 spots, I’m ok with where we sit right now.

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      • Agreed. The games in hand allows UMass the leverage to potentially make up a kit of ground in the standings if the can improve their game.

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  2. exactly, those who thought losing to maine on the road was the end of the world have lost their minds.

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  3. Adam

     /  December 13, 2010

    Totally not the end of the world, it just would be really nice if Mikey would chill out and play sound hockey instead of trying to do everything on the ice. In my opinion from the feel of the game, his penalty took all the steam out of the team. plus the inability to make use of the power play, the general lack of sync on break-outs, and awful rebound control and clearing. But whatever. By the way, who the hell names a black bear “bananas.” Black Bears don’t eat bananas. They aren’t even out of control in a playful and endearing way. I have more to rant but i wont waste your time. A lot of angst builds up over 668 miles.

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  4. what was his penalty? i didnt listen to much of it, but teams get penalties all the time, i cant think one penalty takes the steam out of a team.

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  5. George

     /  December 13, 2010

    Interference at the end of the second period. Led to the GWG at the beginning of the third.

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