The University of Maine women’s hockey team has had some noteworthy achievements under first-year coach Maria Lewis this season.
That includes ending a 28-game winless streak (0-25-3) against New Hampshire and a 23-game drought (0-17-6) against Providence. Maine beat UNH twice.
However, a costly 1-0 home loss to last-place Vermont two weekends ago appeared to all but eliminate the Black Bears from contention for a berth in the six-team Hockey East tournament.
But the Black Bears resurrected their Hockey East Tournament hopes by earning a 1-1 overtime tie and a 4-3 win on the road against the nation’s seventh-ranked Boston College Eagles, who had beaten them in Orono 6-1 on Jan. 8.
Maine is within one point of sixth-place New Hampshire and is one point ahead of Vermont entering the final two-game series in the eight-team league.
Maine hosts the fourth-ranked Boston University Terriers for a two-game set this weekend while New Hampshire plays a home-and-home set with BC and Vermont visits Providence College for a pair.
“We’ve put ourselves back into contention,” said Lewis. “We’re going to need a lot of help but the only thing we can do is try to take points from BU and let fate decide the rest.”
She said she is proud of her team and the way they have bounced back.
“They have never given up this season. I can’t say enough about them,” said Lewis. “We gave up a goal with 25 seconds left in the second period that gave BC a 3-2 lead. That could have been a deal-breaker.”
But freshman Kristi King converted a pass from fellow freshman Kelly McDonald to tie it and junior Myriam Croussette scored the game-winner to complete a three-point night (2 goals, 1 assist).
Croussette was chosen the Hockey East Player of the Week.
“We owed (BC) and we came back fighting,” said Maine junior center and captain Dawn Sullivan. “We’re trying to earn respect. We’re never going to quit. We believe in ourselves.”
Maine had managed just 18 shots on goal against Vermont and Lewis said her team had to get “tougher in the slot.”
“We worked on it a lot in practice. We had to shoot the puck and crash the net. The girls responded and did that,” said Lewis.
She said she has received contributions from everybody this season.
“We’ve been getting good solid efforts across the board,” said Lewis. “That’s what we need in order to have success. I’m happy about that.”
Sullivan said they are very excited about the BU series.
“We showed we could play with them (5-2 loss) last time. We’ve got to make things happen. It’s do or die,” she said.