ORONO – Vanessa Vani has been the Maine women’s hockey team’s leading scorer the past two years after being the fourth-leading point-getter her freshman year.
Genevieve Turgeon owns the school record for career saves (1973), games played (70) and saves in a season (907). She set the single-season saves record last year.
They are now seniors and they are looking to turn around the fortunes of the program beginning Friday at 7 p.m. when Maine hosts North Dakota in a season-opening two-game set. They will play again Saturday at 2 p.m.
Maine went 4-27-3 a year ago, 3-15-3 in Hockey East.
“They’ll be very key for us,” said junior forward Jenna Ouellette.
“I’m very, very excited. It’s my last year and I don’t want to leave anything on the ice. I want to finish with the best year I possibly can. I don’t want to look back on this year and say ‘I wish I could have done this, I wish I could have done that,” said Vani, who had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) a year ago and 26 (11 & 15) two years ago.
Vani had 24 (11 & 13) as a freshman.
“This is a new year so it’s a new start for me,” said Turgeon. “I have to find the same energy and try to focus and be as consistent as I can. I want to talk [more] on the ice and I want to challenge every [shot].”
Vani said one thing she intends to do this year is “get it into my mind to shoot the puck [more] and look for the open spots.”
She is more of a playmaker so the transition from passer to shooter is going to be “very tough.
“But it’s one of the things I’ve been trying to work on,” said Vani. “I need to score more.”
Women’s HEA adopts shootout
The Women’s Hockey East Association has adopted the shootout for its league games.
It wasn’t approved for men’s Hockey East games but the University of Maine men’s team will use it for non-league games.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Vani. “But it’s going to be nerve-wracking on the players.”
“It’s exciting. It’s challenging,” said Turgeon. “The fans like it. It’s obviously part of the [NHL] game and it’s part of our game now so we’ve got to be good at it.”
The men’s Hockey East Association tried it for two seasons (1994-95 and 95-96) before scrapping it. In those two seasons, each team used five shooters apiece before going to a sudden-death format.
This time around, each team will have three shooters, similar to the NHL format, before going to a sudden-death system.
In both leagues, there will be a five-minute, sudden-death period before the shootout is used to break the tie.
Games that go to the shootout will be counted as ties in the eyes of the NCAA but, in the women’s HEA, an extra point will be awarded to the shootout winner while the loser will still earn a point.
Injuries continue to plague Bears
The UMaine football team has been forced to take on the meat of its Colonial Athletic Association schedule while working around numerous injuries to key players.
On offense, the Bears (2-3, 0-2 CAA) were without speedy wide receiver Landis Williams (foot/ankle) for the second straight week and Fluellen, their top two offensive threats. Also on the shelf is wideout Desmond Randall (appendectomy) and tailback Jermaine Henderson (knee).
The defensive losses are more numerous, with defensive backs Dominic Cusano, Steven Barker and Trevor Coston all gone for the season with knee injuries. Starting strong safety Brandon McLaughlin sat out Saturday with an undisclosed ailment, while backup linebacker Levi Ervin missed his second game in a row with a knee injury.
Senior free safety Lamir Whetstone gutted it out against JMU despite a sore shoulder and junior transfer Jonas Rousseau left the team for personal reasons.
“Most of the things we’re dealing with up here, they’re not short-term,” Cosgrove said of the injuries. “You saw a lot of 18-year-olds on the field Saturday night and you’ll probably see more of them as we march forward.”
UMaine unveils third jersey
Following in the footsteps of the men’s hockey team, the UMaine football squad introduced a third game jersey for Saturday night’s contest.
The so-called “Alfond jersey,” purchased with funds raised as part of a matching grant program sponsored by the Alfond family, is Columbia blue with a thick navy blue stripe down each side and navy blue numerals shadowed in white.