MAINE vs. UMASS LOWELL
Time, site: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.
Records: Maine 12-10-6 (9-8-4 Hockey East); UML 4-22-2 (3-18-0)
Series, last meeting: Maine leads 72-29-3, Maine 8-2 on 10/8/10
Key players: Maine — RW Gustav Nyquist (13 goals, 23 assists), LW Spencer Abbott (14 & 17), C Robby Dee (9 & 18), LW Brian Flynn (14 & 11), D Will O’Neill (3 & 13), D Jeff Dimmen (3 & 6), G Shawn Sirman (4-2-3, 2.76 goals-against average, .893 save percentage); UML — C Riley Wetmore (11 & 13), LW David Vallorani (9 & 12), C Matt Ferreira (9 & 7), D Maury Edwards (5 & 7), D Chad Ruhwedel (2 & 10), G Doug Carr (3-11-1, 3.82, .890), G Marc Boulanger (0-10-1, 3.96, .887)
Outlook: The youthful River Hawks have lost 17 of their last 19 but those two wins have come in their last six games including a 6-4 victory at Merrimack. They are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Northeastern after a 3-1 loss at Boston University. Freshman center Joseph Pendenza has three shorthanded goals and Maine has allowed eight. Flynn has 14 points in 10 games against the River Hawks and House has eight goals and five assists in 14 games. The River Hawks will use a high breakout pass so it will be difficult to establish a forecheck. Maine must always have a forward high in the offensive zone or the River Hawks will have numbers on the attack. They will forecheck aggressively so Maine must keep things simple in the defensive zone and not overhandle the puck. Maine may be able to catch the River Hawks deep in the Maine zone on the forecheck so the Bears could create odd-man rushes. Maine snapped its six-game winless streak (0-4-2) Saturday with its 4-2 win over Vermont. Nyquist has a four-game goal scoring streak (7 goals).
MAINE vs. NEVADA-LAS VEGAS
Time, site: Friday, 9 p.m., Wilson Stadium, Las Vegas
Records (2010): Maine 34-22, UNLV 29-29
Series, last meeting: UNLV leads 6-1, Maine won 9-1 in 2009
Top hitters (2010 statistics): Maine — CF Taylor Lewis (.369, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 21 SB), 1B Joey Martin (.332, 3 HR, 46 RBI, 8 SB), C Tyler Patzalek (.323, 2 HR, 21 RBI), RF Pat Thibodeau (.306 6 RBI), DH Justin Leisenheimer (.278, 5 HR, 30 RBI); UNLV — OF Brandon Bayardi (.350, 9 HR, 57 RBI), Cash Thomas (.330, 25 RBI), 2B Hunter Beaty (.276, 3 HR, 25 RBI), SS Travis Feiner (.276, 2 HR, 13 RBI), 3B Richie Jimenez (.259, 27 RBI)
Possible pitching matchup: UMaine RH Jeff Gibbs (5-4, 3.94 ERA, 72 K’s) vs. UNLV RH Tanner Peters (7-5, 5.63, 110 K’s)
Outlook: The Black Bears make the transition from the Mahaney Dome to the diamong with a season-opening, four-game series against the Rebels. UMaine pits its veteran pitching staff against a UNLV squad that lost six of its top seven hitters. Pitchers are scheduled to throw 40-60 pitches, so the Bears will get the chance to demonstrate their depth in the series. UMaine likely will have to work through some nerves with freshmen manning at least three starting positions. The Bears were picked to finish second in America East, while UNLV was chosen fifth in the Mountain West Conference preseason coaches and media poll. Today begins the era of the less-potent metal bats mandated by the NCAA, which should result in fewer home runs and a “small ball” offensive approach by many teams.
MAINE vs. NO. 4 BOSTON UNIVERSITY
Time, site: Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday, 2 p.m., Alfond Arena, Orono
Records: Maine 11-15-5 (5-11-3 Hockey East); BU 24-4-4 (14-2-3)
Series, last meeting: BU leads 2-11-2, BU 5-2 on Jan. 16
Key players: Maine — RW Brittany Dougherty (13 goals, 12 assists), LW Jennie Gallo (13 & 11), RW Myriam Croussette (13 & 11), LW Danielle Ward (11 & 12), D Ashley Norum (1 & 11), D Chloe Tinkler (2 & 9), G Brittany Ott (9-13-4, 2.46 GAA, .921 save pct.); BU — Jenn Wakefield (25 & 21), C Marie-Philip Poulin (22 & 22), LW Jillian Kirchner (10 & 19), C Jenelle Kohanchuk (9 & 18), D Catherine Ward (3 & 24), D Tara Watchorn (5 & 17), G Kerrin Sperry (18-1-3, 1.49, .934)
Outlook: Poulin is questionable due to injury. She scored the two goals that beat Team USA for Team Canada in the Winter Olympics gold medal game and Ward was also a member of the Canadian Olympic team. Maine is in a tense battle for the sixth and final playoff spot and must get as many points as it can and get some help. The Terriers are an uptempo team that loves to attack. Maine might be able to create odd-man rushes with good, crisp breakout passes. BU is 8-0-2 in the last 10 meetings with Maine. Maine is going to have to build on the momentum it earned with a tie and win at No. 7 Boston College last weekend. It will be Senior Day on Saturday as Gallo, Jordan Colliton, Kaitlin Zeek, Danielle Cyr and Madelene Eriksson will play their final regular-season games.