By Ryan McLaughlin- Sports Chowdah. Well, if any of you want a distraction from the fact that the Red Sox stink and that the Patriots don’t open training camp for another few weeks, we know who the University of Maine hockey team will be facing this winter. UMaine released the team’s schedule for the 2019-2020 season this week, and I’ll be bluntly honest, it doesn’t look overly rough.
Among the non-conference matchups for the Black Bears this season are home dates with Alaska-Anchorage and Omaha – the latter series includes a contest in Portland – American International College, and road trips to Quinnipiac, St. Lawrence and Yale.
While Quinnipiac and Yale have been solid ECAC teams, Alaska-Anchorage won only three games last season, and Omaha just nine. Those matchups are perfect for a Black Bears club coming off a dismal 15-17-4 campaign. St. Lawrence was also one of the worst teams in the nation last season, but the bus ride to far upstate New York could be an X-factor in that series.
So, you ask, what could the ceiling be in terms of wins for the hockey Bears this winter?
Well, anything more than 15 would be a great start. Coach Red Gendron is on a hot seat this season, and another sub-.500 campaign could wear out athletic administrator Ken Ralph’s patience.
UMaine will only play six home games in the first semester, and have rugged Hockey East road trips to Providence, UMass, UMass Lowell and Northeastern before Christmas.
It’ll be cool to see the USA Under 18 development team come up to Orono for an exhibition contest in January. Can we also do away with Portland games?
It’s safe to say we’ll learn a lot about this club during the first half of the season.
My early prediction? 17 wins and hosting a first-round Hockey East playoff series in Orono.