The first semester of the season is in the books for the University of Maine hockey team, and it’s safe to say the Black Bears are what their 5-7-2 record says they are. An average team in a not-so-strong Hockey East.
Maine’s league record sits at 3-3-2, “good” for seventh place in the 11-team conference.
The good news is, there’s plenty of time to make inroads over the second half of the season.
But the grades are going to have to improve.
The Black Bears are averaging a dismal 2.2 goals per game (31 goals in 14 contests).
That’s not going to get it done.
Junior captain Chase Pearson is having a strong first half (8 goals, 6 assists) but he needs help.
Classmate Mitch Fossier has lit the lamp once in 14 games, and the Black Bears need better production out of him.
I’ll be bluntly honest here. If not for sophomore Jeremy Swayman, Maine’s record would be far worse than 5-7-2.
The Boston Bruins’ draft pick has posted a .913 save percentage and 2.91 goals-against average, and it’s hard to blame those numbers on him.
Swayman is a talented goaltender and will keep the Black Bears in almost every game, but the blueliners can’t hang him out to dry.
Senior Rob Michel, who will be playing in the NHL someday, is the anchor of this unit that is sorely missing Patrick Holway.
The junior draft pick of Detroit left the team for personal reasons just before the season started, leaving a major hole among Maine’s blue line.
Holway is a great two-way player, and it’s hard to replace that production shortly before the season.
Michel has just 5 points (2 and 3), so Maine will need better production out of him in the second half. Brady Keeper must also be a factor
I’m being generous here. This is a fairly talented team and Red Gendron has yet to get the best out of this group.
Black Bear Nation is getting anxious, given Gendron signed a two-year contract extension last year and has yet to produce an NCAA Tournament team.
A second-half run could quiet the doubters. Hockey East is wide open.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
The power play (7-64) stinks. The penalty kill (10-75) has improved, but a lot of those 10 goals have come at inopportune times in close games.
By: Ryan McLaughlin