Playing the defending national champions in their building is an examination that trumps any biology or math test from a difficulty standpoint.
While the UMaine hockey team didn't get out of Duluth, Minnesota, with an A-plus after getting swept by the reigning champion Bulldogs, 8-2 and 3-2, Red Gendron's Black Bears can certainly use this examination as a foundation for the rest of the season.
For one, UMD is the best team in the country. I know Ohio State came into the weekend with the top ranking, but don't be surprised if the Bulldogs hold onto that spot for a while.
Friday night, Maine didn't look like it belonged in the same arena with UMD, getting blown into International Falls. Saturday was looking bleak as well, but the Bears battled back from a 3-0 deficit and nearly tied the game in the final seconds.
The Black Bears will improve as the season goes along. Jeremy Swayman is arguably the best goaltender in Hockey East. Even though Maine went 0-2, they likely came out of Saturday's game with some confidence.
That's important as Gendron's crew hits the road next weekend for a Hockey East showdown at Connecticut.
These are the games Maine NEEDS to win.
UConn is expected to be among the teams fighting for the last playoff spots in Hockey East, so the Bears should come out of Hartford with at least 3 points.