ORONO — Coming into this season, secondary scoring was an area of concern for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.
That has become even more of a concern since the top three returning scorers, Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond, have been linemates and have accounted for half of the goals in Maine’s 3-4-1 start (3-3 in Hockey East).
Abbott, who has a team-high five goals, Flynn (3) and Diamond (3) have scored 11 of the team’s 22 goals and defensemen have accounted for four more. Players on the other three lines have combined for seven.
Abbott had two goals in the 3-2 loss to New Hampshire on Saturday night after sophomore Jon Swavely scored in the 5-1 loss at Boston College on Friday night.
But the Black Bears, 33rd among 58 Division I schools in scoring (2.75 goals per game), are confident that the other three lines will begin chipping in with some goals.
Maine has scored just five goals in its four losses and 14 in its three wins.
“They’ve been juggling (personnel) on the second, third and fourth lines and maybe they’ve had a little trouble getting the chemistry going,” speculated Abbott. “But the freshman line (Stu Higgins between Connor Leen and John Parker) has been coming along well and I think they’ll produce for us here and there. The second line (junior Kyle Beattie between junior Adam Shemansky and Swavely) played really well at BC. They were probably our best line. They’re developing a lot of chemistry. They’ve looked good in practice.”
“And the third line (junior Klas Leidermark between senior Theo Andersson and sophomore Mark Anthoine) has been solid every game,” added Abbott. “Klas is a good faceoff man who gets a lot of possession for that line, and Theo’s a good shot blocker and defensive player. Once they get to know each other (better), they’ll start producing.”
“(The secondary scoring) is definitely going to happen,” said Diamond. “We’re confident with the guys we have on the second, third and fourth lines.”
He said the veterans on the Beattie and Leidermark lines are proven goal-scorers.
“They’re right on top of the fence ready to knock it over (and break out),” added Diamond. “They’ve been getting their chances. There’s no doubt they’re going to put the puck in the net.”
“We definitely need to have a more balanced attack,” said Shemansky, who has a pair of goals. “(If we’re not scoring), we have to produce in other areas and contribute to the team.”
He said one way they can break out is by “getting pucks to the net and keeping things simple. We need to crash the net, win some battles on the boards and buzz out there. If we do, good things will happen.”
Junior defenseman Matt Mangene said the second, third and fourth lines are playing well and getting scoring opportunities, so it’s “just a matter of bearing down and burying their chances.”
Freshmen Higgins and Parker expect their line to dent the score sheet soon. That trio is looking for its first goal and first point.
“Every game, we’re getting more chances. We’re just gripping our sticks a little tight right now,” said Higgins. “We really want to get one. It’s got to be coming soon. I don’t care which one of us gets the (first) goal, it will definitely help all of us.”
“We’re starting to feel a lot more comfortable with each other,” said right wing Parker. “After we get that first goal, hopefully a lot more will come. If we can take care of the defensive zone, the offense will come.”
POWER PLAY SLUMPING
Maine’s power play has gone four games without a goal and is now 42nd in the country in power-play percentage at 13.2 percent (5-for-38).
And Maine has surrendered four shorthanded goals.
“We’ve got to keep things simple on the power play,” said Abbott. “The last two games, I’ve been trying to do too much out there. We haven’t really gotten set up and settled everything down. We’ve been trying to make those (high-risk) passes we don’t need to make. We’ve got to get pucks to the net and hopefully whack in some rebounds.”
Abbott has been playing on the point on the first power-play unit with Will O’Neill. Flynn, Diamond and Beattie are the forwards on the unit.
Abbott and O’Neill have been getting pressured at the points and Abbott said they have to work the puck high and low.
“If we can execute and get pucks to the net with those three down there, they can score a lot of goals,” said Abbott.
“We work on it every day in practice,” said Mangene, who is on the second power-play unit. “It should be one of our strengths with the guys we have. It’ll start clicking. Teams go through this all the time with the power play not clicking (during a stretch of games).”
“It’s just a matter of time,” said Shemansky, who has seen time on the first and second units. “We’ve moved the puck well. We’ve hit the post or the goalie will make a big save. It’s going to come around. We’ve had some good looks. We just have to bear down and execute the best we can.”
Maine hosts UMass Lowell (3-3, 1-2 in Hockey East) for a pair on Friday and Saturday nights.