A subtle factor that separates great teams from good ones is taking care of business in your home building against subpar competition.
That’s what the University of Maine men’s hockey team failed to do last year.
So far so good this year, as Red Gendron’s crew took care of St. Lawrence, 3-1 and 4-1 at Alfond Arena this weekend.
With a two-game series at national champion Minnesota-Duluth looming next weekend, Maine needed to get these two wins. St. Lawrence is also being pegged by many ECAC puck pundits to finish near the basement of that league.
Things were sloppy at times – that’s expected in a season-opening series, especially in terms of penalties – but Maine’s best player, goaltender Jeremy Swayman, was solid. Six different players scored a goal over the course of the weekend, which showcases the Bears’ depth across all four lines.
But most important? The blue line corps was efficient after the shocking departure of junior Pat Holway.
Maine carried the play both nights. It was one of two Hockey East teams – UMass and Northeastern being the others – to take care of subpar opponents on opening weekend. Given the Bears will be battling those two teams for a top-four finish in Hockey East, it’s a great way to start the season.
There’s no reason to think Maine can’t steal one in the State Of Hockey next weekend. It’ll certainly open some eyes, but the Bulldogs will be hungry and mad after going 0-1-1 against in-state rival Minnesota to start the season.
By: Ryan McLaughlin