MAINE vs. VERMONT
Time, site: Friday, Saturday, 7 p.m., Alfond Arena, Orono
Records: Maine 11-9-6 (8-7-4 Hockey East); Vermont 6-15-5 (4-11-4 HE)
Series, last meeting: Maine leads 14-13-2, Maine 3-2 (OT) on 10/30/10
Key players: Maine — RW Gustav Nyquist (10 goals, 22 assists), LW Spencer Abbott (14 & 16), C Robby Dee (9 & 17), LW Brian Flynn (13 & 11), D Will O’Neill (3 & 12), G Martin Ouellette (3-3-2, 2.90 goals-against average, .874 save percentage), G Dan Sullivan (5-4-1, 2.80, .883); Vermont — Sebastian Stalberg (5 & 14), LW Jack Downing (8 & 4), D Nick Bruneteau (0 & 12), D Drew MacKenzie (3 & 7), LW Chris McCarthy (6 & 3), LW Connor Brickley (3 & 5), G Rob Madore (6-15-5, 2.99, .905)
Outlook: Both teams are desperate for points. Maine is five points adrift of Boston University and Merrimack in the battle for fourth place and the last home-ice playoff spot in Hockey East while Vermont has a one-point lead over Providence for the eighth and final playoff slot. Maine is mired in a five-game winless drought (0-3-2). Madore was the league’s defensive player of the week for his 70 saves on 72 shots in a win and tie over Providence last weekend. UVM is 7-3-1 in its last 11 games at Alfond Arena including last year’s 3-2 and 2-1 late-February sweep that helped prevent Maine from earning an NCAA tournament berth. Vermont had scored only five goals in six games before erupting in Saturday’s 7-1 win over Providence. UVM has a veteran defense corps and does a good job protecting its net front. Sullivan has practiced this week and could return between the pipes after being sidelined since Jan. 14 with a knee injury. UVM is without Maine nemesis and leading goal scorer Wahsontiio Stacey, who left the team late last month after being suspended indefinitely for reportedly missing team functions.