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Time for Maine Hockey to Start Competing With The Decent Teams in Hockey East

January 22, 2020

 

A rare midweek game started well for the University of Maine hockey team on Wednesday. 

 

The Black Bears raced out to a 2-0 lead against Connecticut, leading Maine fans to believe that the Bears were going to take care of business against a team they should beat.

 

But in a microcosm of the Red Gendron era, the Huskies scored the final three goals en route to a 3-2 victory in Bridgeport.

 

Maine fans have seen this movie way too many times since 2013. It's one that has featured far too many sequels. 

 

If the regular season ended today, the Black Bears would not be in the Hockey East playoffs.

 

Maine is a dismal 4-7-2 in league play, and it doesn't get any easier next weekend as the Black Bears visit Boston College for a pair.

 

The Eagles entered the weekend second in Hockey East, and UMaine is winless against the top five teams in the league - UMass, BC, Providence, UMass Lowell and Northeastern - this year.

 

With the inconsistency Maine has showed offensively, can the Bears go into any of those buildings in March and steal two games, should they manage to finish among the top eight teams?

 

Suffice to say, star goaltender Jeremy Swayman has to feel a little bit like Tom Brady did this year, in the context that he has limited offensive weapons to bail him out.

 

After the B.C. series, Maine's schedule softens up a bit with home series against Merrimack, UConn and Vermont, the latter of which is winless in Hockey East play. Fans in Burlington have to wonder how Kevin Sneddon keeps his job every year. 

 

That Alfond-heavy stretch includes a single home date with Northeastern. UMaine needs to find a way to get at least 12 out of those 14 points, with a tough home-and-home against Providence to end the regular season.

 

If Maine finishes outside the top eight, the target on Gendron's back will only get larger, the championship-hungry fan base will only get more restless, and athletic administrator Ken Ralph may have to make a tough decision.

 

Blowing a 2-0 lead to a mediocre UConn team was not a good way to start the stretch run. Stealing a game on Commonwealth Avenue may be a good tone-setter.

 

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