It’s the first week of February, and the University of Maine hockey team is two points out of first place in Hockey East. No, you didn’t read that wrong, and no, you didn’t time-travel back to the mid-2000’s.
Coach Red Gendron’s Black Bears held serve against league bottom-feeder Merrimack and old friend Patrick Holway this weekend, taking care of the 10th-place Warriors 6-2 and 3-2, respectively.
There’s a few things to break down in the wake of this series, so let’s get right to it.
The Bears are now 14-9-4 overall and 8-7-2 in Hockey East, and are tied with three other teams for fourth place in the league. Maine is also just two points behind Boston College and UMass, who share the top spot.
Maine is also climbing up the PairWise rankings thanks to its current 4-game winning streak, with the Bears sitting at 15th in the ranks that mimic the NCAA Tournament selection process.
The Bears have established themselves as a bubble team, and thanks to Quinnipiac’s blowout win over No. 1 Cornell this weekend, Maine’s non-conference split in Hamden is looking a lot better.
There’s no question this team is playing some great hockey, and it’s clear Gendron is getting them to focus on one game at a time, but Maine needs all the points it can get down the stretch. Providence, UMass, BC and UMass Lowell all have games in hand on the Bears.
Up next? A single home date with Northeastern, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. For college hockey’s four Boston schools, this is Beanpot week, so this is a great chance for the Bears to catch the Huskies napping and snatch two points.
If the Black Bears keep holding serve at home the next few weekends, the chances of playoff hockey returning to the Alfond in March increase.
BY: RYAN MCLAUGHLIN