ORONO – The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team has always stressed defense first, particularly from its defensemen.
But the Black Bears may receive more point production from its defense corps this year.
Maine’s defensemen have combined for three goals and nine assists through its first three games. Maine’s defense corps produced 17 goals and 57 assists in 42 games last year and 47 goals the past three seasons.
Maine’s defensemen have 32 of the team’s 76 shots on goal (42.1 percent) so far after last year’s corps generated just 18 percent (256 of 1,419).
Senior defenseman and assistant captain Mike Lundin said the loss of key point-producers like Greg Moore (28 goals, 17 assists) has prompted the returnees to pick up the slack.
“That includes having the defense adding to its point totals. We’re glad to help and I’m sure it will help the team out,” said Lundin.
The two departed defensemen, Travis Wight and Steve Mullin, combined for 4 & 25 in 227 career games.
“They were unbelievable defensively. They weren’t the most gifted offensive guys. Guys like [Matt] Duffy, [Simon] Danis-Pepin and [Bryan] Plaszcz are stepping up defensively and they bring a little more offense, which is great,” junior defenseman Bret Tyler said.
“Duffy has a great shot and if he hits the net, it has a chance of going in. Mike Lundin, like myself, likes to get his shot off quick and we try to keep it low so our forwards can bang away at it. You get a lot of assists like that. Plaszcz can score and Danis-Pepin is coming around too.”
“We’re all offensive-minded,” said Duffy.
Tyler is Maine’s leading scorer with six assists; Duffy has 2 & 2, Plaszcz has a game-winning goal and Lundin has an assist. Danis-Pepin and junior Travis Ramsey haven’t registered a point yet but Ramsey has six shots on goal.
Duffy, Tyler and Lundin are on Maine’s power-play units. Five of Tyler’s six assists have come on the power play as have both of Duffy’s goals. Maine is an impressive 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) on the power play.
“They want me to shoot the puck as much as possible and just get it through. That’s what I’ve been doing,” said Duffy, who has five goals in his last eight games.
Tyler said “all we want to do is get the puck to the net front on the power play. You’ve got [Brent] Shepheard and [Rob] Bellamy in front and no one’s going to push them around. As long as you get the puck to the third circle [between the two faceoff circles], they’ll have a chance of whacking it in.”
Duffy said they work on it every day in practice.
“We try to find the open seam and get our shots through. That’s what Bret is so good at,” said Duffy.
Duffy, Danis-Pepin and Plaszcz are sophomores and, as freshman, they focused strictly on defense.
“That keeps you in the lineup. Once you get the hang of the defensive stuff, you can move on to offense,” said Lundin.
Plaszcz added, “We got a lot of confidence last year and that has allowed us to step up into the offense more his year.”