Heading into the short Christmas break, the University of Maine hockey team is right about where the preseason prognosticators expected it to be.
The Black Bears sit at 8-8-3 overall and 4-6-2 in Hockey East, the latter mark "good" for a three-way tie for sixth place.
Bill Parcells said it best when he once indicated that you are "what your record says you are."
And that ,500 mark tells us the Black Bears, if I were grading them on their first half, would get a C-plus.
Think average. Think Shawn and Cory from "Boy Meets World." And no, I'm not trying to be Mr. Feeny, here. This is an honest indication as to where this team is.
The top four teams in Hockey East? Providence, UMass Lowell, UMass and Northeastern? The Black Bears are an aggregate 0-6-1 against those four.
Maine is averaging 2.3 goals per game (45 over 19 games). The Black Bears are inconsistent offensively, and that simply doesn't cut it. You can preach the "defense wins championships" phrase all you want, but what did Rade in "Hoosiers" once say? "We can't win unless we score."
And unless the Bears find some scoring punch outside Eduards Tralmarks and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (9 goals apiece, 25 points between the two) and Tim Doherty and Mitch Fossier (3 & 17, 7 & 11, respectively), this team is going nowhere.
It's clear who the Bears' best player is: Goaltender Jeremy Swayman. He has a solid .926 save percentage and 2.81 goals against average, but Maine has to find offensive consistency and take pressure off their junior goaltender.
If anything can help Maine in the second half of the year, it's a favorable home schedule. The Black Bears open the second semester with three non-conference games at home, and will face Hockey East bottom-feeders UConn, Merrimack and Vermont at the Alfond.
Those six games have to be must-wins. Hockey East is watered down to the point where Maine can put together a solid second half and finish in the middle of the pack, and host a quarterfinal series.
The Black Bears also have to play better on the road. Maine is 3-8-2 on the road. Road woes have been a staple of the Red Gendron era. The Bears could only muster one win in their stretch of road trips to UMass, St. Lawrence, Northeastern and Yale, the one victory coming at ECAC patsy St. Lawrence.
There's no more time for average in Orono. Fans are getting restless. They're dying for a winner again. And it starts on Dec. 29 at home against American International College.