Senior Dave Wilson or freshman Shawn Sirman will probably start Friday night’s opener in the University of Maine’s best-of-three quarterfinal Hockey East series against UMass Lowell at Alfond Arena.
Game two between the fourth-seeded Bears and fifth-seeded River Hawks will be on Saturday and the if necessary game will be Sunday.
It will be the first time since the 2005-2006 season that Maine has hosted a Hockey East quarterfinal series.
Ironically, the Bears hosted UMass Lowell that year and swept the River Hawks 4-3 in overtime and 4-3.
Sophomore goalie Scott Darling has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules, according to coach Tim Whitehead.
Darling has seen the vast majority of the duty this season but was suspended before this past weekend’s series against UMass. Darling also served a two-game suspension at the start of this season and a one-game last season.
Sirman started both games over the weekend and was lifted in favor of Wilson.
Sirman allowed six goals on 22 shots spanning 45:57 and Wilson surrendered two goals on 19 shots over 73:01.
UMass swept Maine 5-2 and 4-3.
“Both have had some good games. David has played really well beginning with the New Brunswick [exhibition] game. He has had a couple of real good games in relief and I thought he played particularly well in this last game,” said Whitehead referring to his 13-save (2 goals allowed) performance in Saturday’s 4-3 setback.
Wilson made 20 saves to beat defending Canadian national champions New Brunswick 4-1 on Jan. 19.
“Shawn is a freshman who has had some highs and lows but I know he’ll be better because of his experience on Friday and Saturday.
“Those guys will be ready to go,” added Whitehead.
Sirman has played 277 minutes with a 1-6 record, a 5.19 goals-against average and a .832 save percentage while Wilson has played 253 minutes with a 2.84 GAA and an .871 save percentage with an 0-3 record.
Darling is 15-6-3 with a 3.10 GAA and a .895 save percentage over 1511 minutes but has struggled of late with a 4.93 GAA and a .831 save percentage in his last five starts.
“I think both of our goalies have played really well. We haven’t helped them at times but we’re confident in both of them going in into the weekend,” said junior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen.
Maine junior center and captain Tanner House said the team can’t worry about the goaltending situation.
“No matter who is in net, we have to play better as a team,” said House. “We’re confident in both of them. Both of those guys are capable of being the starting guy and being able to win games for us. We need to play well no matter who plays and give that goalie and opportunity to win.”
“Our focus this week will be on improving our team defense,” said Whitehead. “We have to give our goalies an opportunity to succeed. When we do that, we’re a very strong team.”
Maine won two of the three games against UMass Lowell team this season.
Maine triumphed at Lowell 3-1 on Nov. 27 and the teams split their series in Orono on Feb. 19-20 with Maine winning the opener 8-4 and UMass Lowell rebounding to win the second game 4-2.
UML is unbeaten in its last five games (3-0-2) while Maine is 1-4 in its last five.
“We’ve played well against them up here. They’re a great team. We’re very excited to get home ice,” said Maine sophomore right wing and leading scorer Gustav Nyquist. “The crowd will be pumped up for the games. It’ll be a fun weekend.”
“They’re a real strong opponent,” said Whitehead. “They’re a veteran team with two veteran goalies [Carter Hutton and Nevin Hamilton] who have had outstanding years.
“They’ve been in big games before. This will be a great experience for us,” said Whitehead.