Chris Hahn and Keenan Hopson returned to the University of Maine lineup over the weekend after prolonged injury absences and Black Bears men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead liked what he saw.
Junior winger Hahn had missed 12 games with a broken finger and broken jaw.
He suffered the broken jaw when an errant puck hit him while shooting around following his first practice back off the broken finger.
Senior center Hopson missed six of the previous seven games with a separated shoulder.
Neither one had a point in Friday’s 3-2 loss to New Hampshire but Hopson had a game-high six shots on goal and Hahn had one.
Hopson picked up an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to UNH and had one shot on goal while Hahn tied for the team lead with three shots.
Hahn was minus-three in plus-minus for the weekend and Hopson was minus-one.
Players are awarded a plus one if they’re on the ice for an even-strength goal and a minus-one when the opponent scores an even-strength goal.
In addition to taking regular shifts, they both played on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
“I thought they both played great,” Whitehead said.
He thought Hopson was outstanding both nights and Hahn was good Friday and better Saturday.
“Keenan played with a lot of poise. Chris had a lot of energy on Friday but wasn’t quite in game mode,” said Whitehead.
“I played all right. I had some good shifts but I made a few mistakes,” said Hahn.
Freshman left wing Andrew Sweetland is the latest addition to the injury list with a recurring back problem that sidelined him Saturday after he had a goal and an assist Friday.
Brett Carriere replaced Sweetland in the lineup.
Whitehead doesn’t know if Sweetland will be back for this weekend’s series at Boston University.
Senior left wing Billy Ryan remains sidelined with a stress fracture in his hip. He has begun skating but is doubtful for the weekend.
Ryan has missed the last seven games.
Tewksbury shines for UMaine
Sophomore Amanda Tewksbury continued her outstanding play for UMaine on Saturday during the Black Bears’ 69-59 America East loss at Maryland Baltimore County.
The 5-foot-9 guard from Clinton, N.J., connected for a career-best 25 points to set the tone for the UMaine offense.
Tewksbury, a tri-captain, has emerged as the Bears’ most consistent offensive player in recent weeks. She has reached double figures in six of the last seven games and is averaging 14.0 points during that span.
“She’s doing a great job,” said UMaine coach Cindy Blodgett. “She’s been very consistent, comfortable.”
Tewksbury, who also has grabbed 6.4 rebounds per outing during the recent surge, has continued to excel because of her willingness to be aggressive on the offensive end.
“She attacks the basket, she’s not settling [for outside shots],” Blodgett said. “She plays good defense and works very hard.”
In fact, Tewksbury has begun to extend her shooting range, going 3-for-6 on 3-pointers in Saturday’s game.
Tewksbury’s recent contributions have been even more important with freshman Tanna Ross of Newburgh playing a reduced role.
Ross, who has been bothered by a sore right knee, has been limited to 17 minutes per game the last two contests and has scored only eight total points.
“We’re trying to take care of Tanna as best as we can,” said Blodgett, who is not allowed to comment on the details of the injury.
“She’s doing a tremendous job playing with pain,” Blodgett said. “That’s certainly not an easy thing, especially for a freshman, because she probably feels a great deal of pressure.”
In the meantime, UMaine is trying to start peaking as it heads into the last month of the conference season. The Bears’ regular rotation includes seven players, with Ross among that group.
The Bears (6-16 overall, 3-6 AE) need to make their move soon. UMaine is part of a three-way tie for sixth place in the league standings along with UMBC and New Hampshire.
However, both the Retrievers and the Wildcats would win tiebreakers based on head-to-head competition and record against the top league teams, which leaves UMaine in the No. 8 spot.
The Nos. 8 and 9 seeds will meet in a play-in game on the first day of the tournament to see who gets the last quarterfinal berth.
“We really don’t want to get into that position where we’re seventh, eighth or ninth,” said Blodgett, who knows her team must find a way to win a couple of road games.
While the Bears are 3-1 in conference home games, they’re now 0-5 on the road.
“They’re still learning,” she said of her young ballclub. “It’s frustrating, but we have to find a way to win some of these close games.”
On the other end, we knew this going in and when you have a chance to go down and steal a road game, it’s import to do that.
The Bears are preparing for Wednesday’s 7:35 p.m. AE game against Albany at Alfond Arena in Orono.
While UMaine has been able to reduce its turnovers of late, the Great Danes present a tremendous challenge because of their quickness and intensity on defense.
“They’ll pressure us the entire game,” Blodgett said. “We had 30 turnovers when we played them the first time.”
The Bears remain in Orono the rest of the week and take on Stony Brook at noon Saturday.