ORONO, Maine — Last season, forwards Joey Diamond, Kyle Beattie, Adam Shemansky and Mark Anthoine combined for 54 goals, 60 assists and 114 points in the University of Maine’s 40 hockey games.
But points have been hard to come by for seniors Diamond, Beattie and Shemansky and junior Anthoine, the team’s top four returning point-getters as they have combined for a paltry three goals and five assists. They haven’t been able to fill the void left by the departed Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn, Matt Mangene and Will O’Neill, who teamed up for 58 goals and 119 assists.
Diamond has a goal and three assists in 11 games; Beattie, who has been slowed by two concussions, has an assist in six games; Shemansky has a goal in 12 games and Anthoine has a goal and an assist in 12 games.
Diamond and Anthoine each had 11 power-play goals a year ago to share the national lead with three other players but both are looking for their first power-play goals of the season.
The Black Bears, 2-9-1 overall and 1-5-1 in Hockey East, has the nation’s worst power play (5.4 percent) and is 58th among 59 teams in offense (1.42 goals per game).
They will try to break out when they entertain Vermont for a pair on Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.).
Maine will need the quartet to snap out of their slumps if they are going to climb out of the Hockey East cellar and make an ascension in the standings.
Beattie, a center who had 6-21-27 a year ago, said it will take “hard work and focus” to do so.
“We need to be more poised and collected with the puck. That’s something the whole team can do,” said Beattie. “We need to have confidence in ourselves. Everyone is a good hockey player. Everyone has had success at some level, either here or in juniors.
“We shouldn’t just be trying to survive shifts and we shouldn’t be satisfied with getting the puck deep and getting after it. We have to make plays, take the puck to the net and do the little things that can produce goals,” added Beattie. “We need to shoot the puck more and get into those scoring areas.”
Diamond said they can’t be satisfied with getting a good cycle going in the offensive zone.
“We need to create as many chances as we can. As long as we’re getting chances, the goals will come,” said Diamond, who had 25 and 22 a year ago and his 25 goals were tied for fifth-best in the country.
Diamond is a marked man and his line is often matched up against the opposing team’s top checking line.
“We knew that coming into this season. But having to play against the other team’s top checking line is going to make us better players,” said Diamond.
Anthoine admitted that when the goals aren’t coming, “you start pressing and gripping your stick too tight. It’s a mental game.”
He also said they have to avoid spending too much time dwelling about their offensive struggles.
“You have to think defensively and about the team first and if we do that, good things will come. We have plenty of skill. It just isn’t showing yet. I’m anxious for it to happen” said Anthoine, who had 12 and 7 a year ago.
Shemansky acknowledged that it is hard to “play with confidence when you aren’t putting up points,” but said he can’t get discouraged.
“I think I’ve been playing well and creating opportunities but the puck hasn’t been going in.
“You just have to do anything you can to help the team win, whether it means having a big defensive shift or trying to kill off a penalty,” added Shemansky, who was 11 and 10 a year ago. “I’m not going to worry about my numbers. If I can do the little things, [the numbers] will get there at the end.”
The Black Bears will enter the Vermont series with a two-game unbeaten streak (1-0-1).
Something will have to give because Maine is winless at home (0-5-1) and Vermont (2-7-2, 2-5-2) has yet to dent the victory column on the road (0-3-2).
“This is a great opportunity to move up in the standings but every game is going to be a test for us,” said Beattie.