ORONO — They have been linemates for the better part of three years.
University of Maine senior center Tanner House, junior left wing Brian Flynn and junior right wing Gustav Nyquist have been one of college hockey's most prolific lines, especially the past two seasons.
They had played together for just three games during a recent seven-game stretch, but they were re-united before the Providence College game on Jan. 14 and have been on a tear ever since.
They have combined for seven goals and nine assists during Maine's current three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1).
House, the team captain, has three goals and three assists and has a career-high streak of three consecutive multiple-point games. Flynn has four goals and two assists, and Nyquist, an assistant captain, has four assists.
Flynn has generated 14 shots on goal, Nyquist 12 and House 10.
"They have been playing unbelievable. They've been setting the tone for us, energy-wise," said Maine senior defenseman and assistant captain Jeff Dimmen. "They've been flying around, making plays. They have really given the team a boost."
They are also a combined plus-12. Players are awarded a plus-one if they are on the ice when their team scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal and a minus-one if the other team scores one.
House has been plus-five, Flynn has been plus-four and Nyquist has produced a plus-three rating.
Flynn had the game-winning goal in the 4-3 overtime win over Providence with House and Nyquist assisting. Flynn also had the game-winner in the 4-1 win over Boston College with Nyquist picking up an assist, and House had two goals in the 3-3 tie against Northeastern. Flynn had the other goal with Nyquist assisting on it.
"Each one has battled injuries throughout the year and they're pretty healthy now, which has made a big difference," said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. "They have made a huge impact the past couple of weekends."
Whitehead added that the trio has been working extremely hard, winning loose pucks and fighting to get to the net.
"They're really covering for each other when they lose possession. I've always liked their chemistry together. They're really producing," he said.
The line had been struggling a bit, House said.
"We hadn't been playing the way we could or the way we had played in the past, so it became a focus of ours to get our line going," he said. "We've had a lot of fun the past couple weekends. We've been clicking in practice. There's a lot of energy with us right now. It's been going good."
Nyquist said they have been playing well.
"The Merrimack game (a 7-1 loss on Jan. 8) was a big wakeup call for us," said Nyquist, who was on a line with Flynn and Robby Dee for that game. "Nobody played well at all. Since then, we've all been working hard in every practice and in every game. And things have been clicking so far."
"It's been fun out there," added Nyquist. "Every time you play with guys like Flynn and House we're going to create a lot of offense and, right now, we're doing that because we're working hard."
Goaltending still up in the air
The goaltending carousel continues.
Sophomore Shawn Sirman allowed three goals on 22 shots against Northeastern after his 25-save gem against Boston College.
Whitehead said he is hoping to get freshman Dan Sullivan back on Wednesday. He has been sidelined since the Merrimack game with a knee injury.
Freshman Martin Ouellette made 14 saves in the win over Providence.
"They've got to keep working hard," said Whitehead. "We knew coming into the year that it wasn't going to come easy. It was going to take time and patience and that has been the case. We have seen great things from all three of them."
He said the battle for Friday night's start against Boston University in the opener of a critical two-game series is wide open.
"Each has the opportunity, if they're healthy, to compete for the job," said Whitehead. "I've love to have more consistency from them, but they're young and they don't have the experience they need to play with consistency. Hopefully, one or two will emerge down the stretch as our leaders in the net. Long-term, they're going to be outstanding goalies."
Special teams improving
Maine's special teams continue to improve.
Maine's power play has scored at least one goal in seven straight games (8-for-34), and the penalty kill has been successful on 14 of the last 15 kills.
"The key to the power play is having Jeff Dimmen and Will O'Neill back at the points," said Nyquist, referring to the injured defensemen who have returned to the lineup in recent weeks. "They make a huge difference."
O'Neill missed eight games with a knee injury and Dimmen was sidelined for seven with a sprained ankle.
"We've really tried to buckle down on the special teams," said Dimmen. "Special teams can give you a boost. If the game is even five-on-five, getting a couple goals on special teams can really help you out."