UMaine Hockey, Baby Steps

It wasn’t pretty, but the Maine Black Bears got the victory Saturday Night against the Bentley Falcons earning their first victory of the season, first home opening win since 2010, and the first victory for coach Red Gendron.

Junior Forward Stu Higgins was the star of the game scoring both goals for Maine in their 2-1 victory. He scored the first goal of the game two minutes in on a pass from Connor Leen right in front of the net. In the second period he scored on a 3-on-2 break with a wristshot that went past Bentley goalie Branden Komm to make it 2-1. This was the season debut for Higgins as he sat out last weekend with a groin strain. He said in the press conference that he’s not much of a shooter, but more of a passer or a “Here you go” kind of player.

The other bright spot for Maine was goaltender Martin Ouellette who collect 24 saves on 25 shots to earn the victory. He gave up one bad goal that went high blocker side, but also made some key saves that could’ve let Bentley tie this game. “It was good to get the first win at home,” said Marty as he showed a smile. By all means this wasn’t Marty’s greatest game, he was wandering for pucks when maybe he should’ve stayed in the crease. But he only gave up one goal and made some superb saves.

While there were some positives, at the same time like the headline suggests, Maine made some small steps towards becoming prominent, but they have some stuff they needed to improve on. Penalties on both ends, causing penalties and the powerplay were weak. Maine only drew 7 penalties, but in the middle of the second, they were playing 3-on-5 for about three and a half minutes straight, they’re inexcusable dumb penalties. The one thing that came out of it was Maine was perfect on the penalty kill, but Bentley is nowhere near the best team the Black Bears will face this year.

“Penalty killing was great … If the penalty kill wasn’t there, Bentley could’ve come back into this game.” Said Coach Red Gendron, which he was more than willing to praise the penalty kill after being critical of Maine’s Powerplay.

“They didn’t even come close to what we did at practice [Friday]” Said coach Gendron, “We have a long long way to go with that [Powerplay]”. Maine’s powerplay was dreadful, they went 0-7 on the powerplay, including a 5-on-3 oppurtunity for a minute and a half. Maine just couldn’t get much going, the powerplay was a high point of practice last week leading up to Saturday’s game. But it shows that the powerplay still needs to be worked on, especially with Umass coming to town for two games this weekend.

Maine players gather at center following victory over Bentley. Photo courtesy of Alex Quirk

Maine players gather at center saluting the crowd following victory over Bentley. Photo courtesy of Alex Quirk

What was of note this weekend was that it was homecoming at the University of Maine. There was a football game early in the day, Maine won 34-20 over William & Mary. It was certainly great for Maine to not only get the win at home, but with certain alumni and others in attendance, it was key for Maine as they need to convince fans and alumni that this is a new season and era in Maine hockey, winning on homecoming is a great first step.

So my final thought on this game, it was big for Maine to get the victory at home. The penalty kill was as excellent as ever given the situations with their backs against the walls. Having said that, the powerplay continues to be dreadful, especially since it was a point of emphasis in practice this week, I imagine Red will make a point to continue the work on the powerplay. They have a lot of work ahead of them as they have Umass coming in for 2 non-conference games this upcoming weekend, I’ll have a little preview of the series coming up on Wednesday.

For the rest of the interviews from this weekend, check out WMEB Sports

Alex Quirk

About Alex Quirk

Alex covers UMaine Hockey for WMEB Sports, the sports department at WMEB 91.9 FM, as the sideline reporter/live-tweeter during the games. .