ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team may have just a 2-5 record, but you can’t blame the power play.
The Black Bears have the nation’s fourth best power-play percentage at 27.7 percent (13-for-47), and they have scored at least two power-play goals in five of their last six games.
After going 1-for-8 in a season-opening 4-1 loss at Union College, Maine has gone 12-for-39 over the last six games (30.8 percent).
Maine went 3-for-10 on the power play in Friday’s 4-1 Hockey East triumph over Vermont.
Twelve players have at least one point on the power play, and freshman left wing Adam Shemansky is tied for second in the country with four power-play goals. Sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist is tied for seventh with three.
Nyquist has eight power-play points (3 goals, 5 assists) to lead the Bears in that category. He is followed by Shemansky (4 & 1), defensemen Will O’Neill and Jeff Dimmen (1 & 3 apiece), right wing and power-play point man Spencer Abbott (0 & 4), left wing Brian Flynn (1 & 2) and center Robby Dee (0 & 3).
A 6-for-15 power-play showing in March in their three-game Hockey East quarterfinal series against Boston University, which had one of the nation’s best penalty-killing percentages, gave them confidence coming into this season.
“We’re pretty much doing the same things as we did at the end of last year. We had a great power play series against BU in Boston and we’ve been improving on that all season,” said Nyquist.
The Bears lost just three players who played on their top two power play units last season so there has been a healthy familiarity.
“We know where we are out there and we’re clicking,” said Nyquist.
“We’ve been getting the puck into the [offensive] zone pretty easily the last couple of games and we’ve been getting pucks to the net,” said senior center-right wing David deKastrozza, who parks in front and screens the goalie on one of the power play units. “We aren’t trying to be too fancy or anything. We’re just getting pucks to the net.”
“We’ve been moving the puck well,” said freshman center Matt Mangene, who is on a unit that includes linemate Shemansky. “We feel very comfortable out there. We’re clicking real well. When we get out there, we know we’re going to produce something. We know we’ll get some shots. Something good is going to happen.”
“There’s a snowball effect,” said sophomore right winger Abbott, who has been moved to the point on one of the power-play units after playing down low with the man advantage last year. “When we’re scoring goals and we get back out there, all we can think about is scoring another goal and how it’s definitely a possibility be-cause we’ve been doing it. Everyone feels confident on the ice because everyone’s been scoring.”
Nyquist said the point men “have been doing a good job getting pucks through and Tanner [House] and [deKastrozza] have been doing a great job screening the goalies so the goalies don’t see much at all. That makes it tough for them to make saves and control the rebounds. And we have guys on the rebounds so we can get the ugly goals.”
“I just try to see where the goalie is and where the shot is coming from and try to block his vision,” said de Kastrozza.
Mangene said the veterans on the power play have been very helpful giving the freshmen pointers.
Nyquist said Abbott has done an excellent job quarterbacking one of the units.
“He’s got great poise and is one of our most skilled players,” said Nyquist.
Abbott said he played half a season in junior hockey at the point on the power play and he was “kind of surprised” when the Maine coaching staff put him there.
“But, so far, I’m enjoying it a lot,” said Abbott, who has fed Shemansky for two goals in which Shemansky redirected the puck home.
“[Shemansky] gets in the right spot and he has his stick on the ice. That’s all that matters,” said Abbott.
Maine hosts 2-3 Boston University on Sunday at 4 p.m.