UMaine goalies face daunting task this weekend against BC, UNH

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted Nov. 01, 2012, at 6:01 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — When your team isn’t scoring goals, it will put pressure on the goalies.

But the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team’s three goaltenders aren’t dwelling on the fact their mates are 57th among 59 teams in goal production with an average of 1.14 goals per game en route to a dismal 1-6 start.

They are just trying to improve as they face the daunting challenge of hosting the nation’s top-ranked team, 4-1 Boston College, at 7 p.m. Friday and 4-0-1 New Hampshire at 4 p.m. Sunday.

New Hampshire is ninth in one national poll and 10th in another.

BC has won three of the last five national championships.

Any of the three goalies — juniors Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellette and freshman Matt Morris — could start this weekend, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.

Sullivan, who has started five of the seven games, said he doesn’t feel any added pressure.

“I don’t think about that,” he said. “I just try to stop each shot one at a time. Whatever the result is, it is. If a goal goes in, there’s nothing you can do about it after the fact. I just try to prepare as well as I can, make saves and try to keep the team in the game.”

“Even if your team is doing well offensively in front of you, you always try to do your best to give your team its best chance to win,” said Ouellette, who made 24 saves in his first start of the season Friday night, a 3-2 loss at Providence.

Morris said the goalies will be feeling a little extra pressure.

“But defense wins championships. You just try to make that first save,” he said. “Hopefully, the scoring will come around. I’m sure it will. It’s still early in the year.”

Morris has Maine’s only win, a 21-save, 4-3 win over Army in the consolation game at the Ice Breaker Tournament on Oct. 13. He made 11 saves on 14 shots in a pair of mop-up appearances against St. Lawrence after Sullivan was pulled.

The goalies are battling for the starting job but they feel the competition is healthy.

“My goal is to get better every day and having two veteran guys like [Sullivan and Ouellette] has really helped me,” Morris said.

Whoever plays this weekend will be tested.

New Hampshire’s 3.4 goals per game average is 11th best among the country’s 59 Division I hockey teams while BC has averaged 3.2 gpg, which is tied for 19th.

Both teams are potent on the power play, as BC is tied for fourth in the country with a 35.3 percent success rate with the man-advantage while UNH is 13th at 25 percent.

“It’s a huge weekend. It’s going to be fun,” Sullivan said.

Maine senior defenseman and tri-captain Mark Nemec said the team has confidence in all three of them.

“In some of those games, we haven’t done a great job protecting them,” Nemec said. “It’s on us to help them out.”

He feels the scoring drought does put pressure on the goalies, “but I’m not a goalie so I can’t speak for them in that regard.

“We’ve been working on our offense this week as well as on our team defense. We’ve focused on the little things. If we can make those adjustments, hopefully it will pay off this weekend,” Nemec said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/11/01/sports/umaine-goalies-face-daunting-task-this-weekend-against-bc-unh/ printed on October 22, 2014