The University of Maine men’s hockey team will take a two-game winning streak and some momentum into Sunday’s 4 p.m. Hockey East clash with defending NCAA champion Boston College at Alfond Arena.
Maine, now 3-3, swept College Hockey America’s Niagara University Purple Eagles 4-2 and 4-1. Niagara was an NCAA Tournament team a year ago.
“We wanted to get back to .500 and get our momentum going into a real tough game next weekend,” said senior center Chris Hahn, who had three goals and an assist against Niagara, his first four points of the season.
Hahn was relieved to find the score sheet after going pointless the first four games.
“I’m trying to make up for some lost time,” said Hahn. “It’s nice to get the bounces. The biggest thing is Coach [Tim Whitehead] has put me on the power play. He’s giving me good ice time. It’s nice to contribute.”
Hahn is also being used on the penalty kill.
Whitehead said he was pleased with the play of his top two lines. Hahn centers one between sophomore Lem Randall and freshman Spencer Abbott while sophomore Tanner House centers the other top line between freshmen Brian Flynn and Gustav Nyquist.
“Both lines played like top lines. That was a big plus for us. They produced offensively. They were able to maintain possession of the puck. They were very consistent and they were excellent on the power play.”
Nyquist had a goal and five assists; House had two goals and an assist and Flynn had his first collegiate goal and an assist to go with Hahn’s production.
“It feels good to get [his first goal] out of the way. I was excited,” said left winger Flynn.
Whitehead is hoping to regain the services of sophomore center Glenn Belmore, who has yet to play in a regular season game this season after injuring his knee in an exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick.
“We’re shooting for this weekend but, if not, we should definitely have him back for Providence,” said Whitehead referring to their two-game series at Providence College on Nov. 14-15.
Belmore had a goal and three assists in 27 games a year ago.
Whitehead said he won’t decide on which goalie to use until Saturday.
“They both had great games over the weekend,” said Whitehead referring to junior Dave Wilson’s 33-save performance in Friday’s 4-2 triumph and freshman Scott Darling’s 29-save outing in Saturday’s 4-1 victory.
“It’s a shame we don’t have two games. I’d like to play them both,” said Whitehead.
Maine’s power play has been improving, going 3-for-6 on Saturday. The Bears now have at least one power-play goal in their last three games (5-for-14) after going 1-for-22 in their first three games.
The penalty-killing has been outstanding since allowing two power-play goals in five chances to Alaska-Anchorage in their opener.
The Bears have killed off 25 of 27 over the last five games including several five-on-threes.
“Any time you can get some power play goals and keep [the opponents’ power play] down, it makes a huge difference in the game,” said House.
Whitehead said his defense corps was “very solid” over the weekend and he was happy with the progress of junior right wing Kevin Swallow, the Dartmouth College transfer who made his debut after sitting out a year and missing the first four games with a high ankle sprain.
“He improved from night to night and he’ll keep getting better. He’ll earn more and more ice time,” said Whitehead.
Swallow took a regular shift both nights and was plugged into a penalty-killing unit on Saturday.