ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine women’s ice hockey team is concentrating on the task at hand.
The 0-1-1 Black Bears have the nation’s 10th-ranked team coming to Orono for their home-opening series this weekend as the 3-0-1 Quinnipiac University Bobcats (Conn.) will play them on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
The Black Bears remain without head coach Maria Lewis, who has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 16 due to potential personnel and NCAA compliance violations. An investigation by the institution is ongoing.
Fourth-year assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Richard Reichenbach and second-year assistant Sara Simard are running the team in Lewis’ absence.
“It’s a hard thing but we’re a pretty close-knit group and we all support each other,” said junior center Katy Massey of Waterville. “We’re doing the best we can and the coaches are doing a very good job.”
“We’ve had a lot of support from everyone,” said junior left wing and captain Jennifer More. “We go on the ice and work hard every day. The assistants have really stepped up. They’re getting us through it. We’re helping each other through things right now.
“We’re just looking to improve every practice and every weekend,” added More.
Massey and More said the team has bonded through the adversity.
After dropping a pair of exhibition games to the defending Canadian Women’s Hockey League champion the Boston Blades, 6-2, 3-2, the Black Bears lost a season-opening 5-1 decision at Boston College before earning a 2-2 overtime tie at New Hampshire last Sunday.
Maine sophomore goalie Meghann Treacy, replacing the departed Brittany Ott, made 50 saves and was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.
The Black Bears are eager to play.
“We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting,” said More. “There are going to be a lot of parents here [for Homecoming weekend].”
The Black Bears had 11 freshmen and sophomores in the lineup at UNH.
“It’s hard, especially for the freshmen, to get used to everything. But they’ve been doing a very good job,” said Massey.
Quinnipiac boasts the nation’s No. 2 career scoring leader among active players in senior center Kelly Babstock, who has 159 points (77 goals, 82 assists) in 114 games.