Saturday the UMaine Men’s hockey team opened the season with the biggest thud in program history, a 7-0 blood letting at Providence. As if getting shellacked at the hands of one of the top teams in the country wasn’t bad enough, the Black Bears laid an absolute egg in a Sunday exhibition against the University of New Brunswick, with the Varsity Reds heading back to Canada with a 5-0 victory.
So, that’s two games, no wins and no goals. Holy.
You have to ask, when is the administration at UMaine going to decide enough is enough and choose to move on from Gendron?
He’s approaching the final year of his contract, and may be out of a job come March if his team keeps playing like this. Fans are also going to choose to stay home and watch the Patriots, Celtics and Bruins.
The Black Bears didn’t even get off the bus in Saturday’s season opener.
This game was ugly right off the bat, with the Bears taking two penalties early in the first period, and the Friars cashing in on a 5-on-3 opportunity 2:30 into the game.
Goaltender Jeremy Swayman saw 25 shots in those first 20 minutes, and 59 for the contest. The Bears’ lack of discipline under coach Red Gendron continued, with UMaine recording just as many penalty minutes as shots on goal (29).
To put it bluntly, that cannot happen.
Yes, UMaine is going to struggle to score goals this season, but it was men against boys out there. The talent gap in coaching and players between the Bears and the Friars showed.
Remember when UMaine used to own Providence? Well, since Gendron arrived in Orono in 2013, the Bears own one victory over Nate Leaman’s club.
While the Friars are the seventh-ranked team in the nation for a reason and this writer’s pick to win Hockey East and appear in the Frozen Four, the Black Bears were abysmal in all three zones. Swayman is a very talented goaltender, but he cannot see 59 shots and expect to win.
The Friars skated circles around UMaine’s inexperienced defensemen, and the Bears’ offensive zone entries were terrible. It didn’t help that UMaine once again could not stay out of the penalty box, and the Bears don’t have the team speed needed to be a top tier team in Hockey East.
If this is the energy the Black Bears are going to bring this season, Alfond Arena is going to be a ghost town this winter.
Fortunately, the Black Bears will have a much less challenging opponent in WCHA bottom-feeder Alaska-Anchorage at home next weekend. But if the Black Bears don’t figure things out quickly. don’t be surprised if the Seawolves head back to the Last Frontier with a pair of wins.
By Ryan McLaughlin