For the veterans on the College of Maine’s hockey staff, this weekend’s sequence towards the nation’s top-ranked staff, the Boston School Eagles, goes to be a brand new expertise.
The Black Bears enter the sequence nationally ranked as effectively, thirteenth in each main polls, for the primary time in additional than a decade. Sellout crowds are anticipated on each Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. on the Alfond Area.
“That is an incredible alternative,” mentioned UMaine junior defenseman and co-captain David Breazeale. “We have now labored actually exhausting for a very long time for this.”
UMaine will enter the sequence with a 5-1 file and is coming off a street sweep at Merrimack School, a staff that reached the NCAA Match final 12 months and was picked to complete third within the Hockey East preseason coaches ballot. UMaine beforehand bought a break up at Quinnipiac, the defending nationwide champion and preseason favourite to win the ECAC title.
UMaine’s three street wins are only one shy of their variety of street wins for all of final season (4-9-4) and solely two fewer than the final two seasons mixed (5-22-5).
UMaine was 7-22-4 two years in the past and improved to 15-16-5 final 12 months.
UMaine’s 5-1 begin this 12 months is this system’s greatest because the 2006-07 season, which was the eleventh and final time UMaine reached the Frozen 4.
Boston School is 7-1 total and has received 4 straight. Each groups are 2-0 in league play.
UMaine third-year head coach Ben Barr mentioned it will likely be a “nice take a look at” for the staff.
“We haven’t seen a excessive octane offense like this but,” Barr mentioned. “It is a great problem and alternative.”
BC’s scoring common of 4 targets per sport is tied for sixth amongst 64 Division I groups within the nation. The Eagles have 14 NHL draft selections in contrast with UMaine’s one, and three of them are BC’s main scorers.
Freshman Will Smith (5 targets, 7 assists) was the fourth total choice (San Jose) final June, whereas fellow freshman Gabe Perreault (1 aim, 10 assists) was the twenty third total decide (New York Rangers) and sophomore Cutter Gauthier (8 & 2) was the fifth total choice (Philadelphia) two years in the past. The opposite first-rounder, freshman Ryan Leonard (3 & 4), is the fifth-leading point-producer. He was the eighth total decide of the Washington Capitals.
Smith facilities a line between Perreault and Leonard and the three had been linemates for the U.S. Below-18 Nationwide Crew Growth program final 12 months and so they mixed for 155 targets and 188 assists.
UMaine’s solely draft decide, freshman left wing Bradly Nadeau, a primary spherical decide of the Carolina Hurricanes (thirtieth total) is UMaine’s high scorer with 5 targets and three assists and he’s the reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Week.
Eagle freshman defenseman Aram Minnetian, a fourth spherical decide of Dallas (one hundred and twenty fifth total), is the reigning Hockey East Defender of the Week.
UMaine hasn’t performed at dwelling since sweeping Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Oct. 12-13.
“Our followers are so into the sport. It’s essentially the most distinctive [environment] in faculty hockey. There’s no higher place to play,” Breazeale mentioned.
Barr mentioned it will likely be handled like another sequence and famous that the staff can’t get caught up within the buzz.
“There was lots of pleasure for the final two weekends final 12 months and look what occurred,” mentioned Barr, whose staff was swept at dwelling by UMass after which misplaced its Hockey East dwelling playoff sport to Vermont.
The Black Bears entered the UMass sequence unbeaten in its earlier seven video games (4-0-3).
“That was as a result of we couldn’t execute. It wasn’t an effort factor, it was a psychological factor,” the coach mentioned. “Once you play a staff like BC, you may’t have a man having an off night time as a result of that may doubtlessly value you. These kinds of groups make you pay for each mistake you make.”
Breazeale mentioned he is aware of they must include their feelings and never get too excessive or too low.
“We have now to play our sport and belief the method. We have now to be absolutely locked in for 60-plus minutes every night time,” Breazeale mentioned.
UMaine has received the final 4 conferences with BC and is unbeaten in 5 (4-0-1).
One of many causes is goaltender Victor Ostman, who has a 1.60 targets towards common and .939 save share in these 5 video games. The senior has performed in all six video games this season and has a 2.15 goals-against common and a .898 save share.
Freshman Jacob Fowler, a 3rd spherical draft decide of Montreal (69th total) has performed all eight video games for coach Greg Brown’s Eagles and has a 2.12 GAA and a .923 save share.
Brown performed for BC and was a long-time assistant at BC below Corridor of Fame coach Jerry York earlier than changing him two years in the past after York retired.
He is aware of all about Alfond Area.
“It’s a terrific environment. Our older gamers have been telling our younger guys about it,” mentioned Brown, who added that the very fact each groups are nationally ranked will improve the environment.
He mentioned he has been impressed with UMaine and expects a terrific sequence.
“We’re going to have to interrupt the puck out of our [defensive] zone. They arrive at you exhausting on the forecheck and their defenseman pinch in on the factors,” Brown mentioned. “We’re additionally going to must create area [in the offensive zone] so we will generate scoring probabilities.”