Bad coaching. Bad playing. Bad everything. That Bill Belichick-esque statement sums up the University of Maine hockey team’s home series against Quinnipiac, which ended in an inglorious sweep, in which the Bobcats outscored the Black Bears by an aggregate 9-2 (7-2, 2-0)
The only silver lining about this series? It was not a Hockey East series. It’s a small one.
The sweep dropped Maine to a dismal 4-7-1.
Expectations were high for this club in September, and not too many Black Bear supporters expected the team to have a 4-7-1 overall mark the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Fans are starting to wonder: Is the hot seat starting to warm up for head coach Red Gendron?
I’ve been a Gendron supporter since Day 1, but this observer would have to say yes to the hot seat question.
Maine hockey fans are frustrated and restless. One NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 is unacceptable. You could even argue that former coach Tim Whitehead may have been able to get more out of this talented group of Black Bears.
As frustrated as fans were with Whitehead by the end of his tenure, he was a great X’s and O’s coach who would be wearing two national championship rings if not for bad luck (2004) and a controversial call (2002). That last NCAA Tournament team probably would’ve at least made the Frozen Four with a healthy Spencer Abbott (concussion in the Hockey East semifinals) and had Scott Darling kept his act together.
Gendron is an old-school guy, but you have to wonder, if this continues, is athletic administrator Ken Ralph going to pull the trigger and bring in a new coach?
It’s understandable to think that the University wouldn’t want to buy out the remaining two years on Gendron’s contract while paying a new coach, but Ralph knows college hockey after coming in from Colorado College, whom Maine’s next home game is against in January.
Five years ago, fans were preaching patience. Now, fans are preaching that enough is enough, and Maine deserves a winner again. Heck, Greg Carvel has been able to wave his magic wand with perennial cellar-dweller UMass, which was atop the first PairWise rankings. Who saw that coming?
There’s still time for the Black Bears to make a push in Hockey East play, starting next weekend at Vermont. The Catamounts are in the league basement but they did go out to Michigan and win a game there.
If this type of uninspiring play continues, “Fire Gendron” hashtags are only going to be a bigger trending topic on social media between Kittery and Madawaska. And Ralph may have to keep his ears peeled.
By Ryan McLaughlin