ORONO – Junior left wing Chris Hahn was one of several veteran University of Maine forwards expected to elevate his play this year to go with his expanded role. The Bears lost players who produced 67.7 percent of their goals a year ago.
So far, so good for Hahn.
He has responded with three goals and an assist in his last four games. His game-winning goal and assist in a 4-2 win over Mercyhurst on Oct. 19 snapped a 19-game pointless streak dating back to last year.
“He has been our most consistent forward as far as all-around play,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead whose Bears hope to run their winning streak to five games when they meet Boston College tonight at 7 at Conte Forum.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of opportunity this year so if we’re going to win and be successful, a lot of guys in the past who hadn’t played key roles were going to have to play bigger parts in our team this year,” said Hahn. “I was hoping I could step in and contribute more than I have.”
Hahn didn’t score a goal but had six assists in 29 games a year ago after notching three goals and two assists in 16 games his freshman year.
Hahn admitted that his pointless streak produced some frustration.
“I knew I could score and put up points but, obviously, that wasn’t my role last year. I was on a checking line and the team was doing well at the end of the year so that was our main focus. Just get the puck deep [into the offensive zone]. That didn’t result in a lot of points, obviously,” said Hahn.
But Hahn knew this year would be different and said he was a “little hungrier” during his off-season workouts.
“I did the same things but with a little more effort. I stayed home a little more, I went out a little less and I ate a little better. I was hungry to get back and have a better year than I’ve had,” said Hahn. “I know I’m being counted upon to be a solid two-way forward and the more offense I can chip in, the better.”
Whitehead said Hahn returned to school “in the best shape of his life.
“We graduated a lot of elite forwards and he has seized the opportunity to help the team. We’ve had him on the power play and the penalty kill and he has played in the first and last minutes [of games]. He has played in all situations,” said Whitehead. “He has used his speed and strength to his advantage. We’ve rewarded his effort with more ice time.”
Maine senior captain Travis Ramsey said Hahn has “really elevated his game. He’s quick and he has more confidence with the puck. He feels he has more time out there. He’s not hurrying with the puck. He’s making good plays and he’s not afraid to shoot it either.”
The 5-foot-9, 178-pound Hahn, a native of Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, said he is a stronger skater this year and is stronger physically.
“Mentally, I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years … just to stay positive and keep at it,” said Hahn.
He said the BC game will be a “measuring stick.
“Everyone picked BC and UNH [to win the Hockey East title] so we’ll see where we match up and what we need to work on,” said Hahn.