ORONO, Maine — After a stretch in which it went 258 minutes without an even-strength goal, the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team has now scored six even-strength goals in its last 67 minutes and 5 seconds.
Maine has scored nine goals in its last four periods including seven in the shutout win over Boston University on Friday night. It was the most lopsided win by Maine over BU in their 120-game history.
“We work on (offense) every day,” said Maine coach Red Gendron. “It’s nice to see our players get rewarded for it. It inspires them to keep it up.
“We have a bunch of guys who can score and who are scoring and we have some guys who haven’t scored who are capable of contributing more offensively,” added Gendron. “Hockey involves packed-in defenses. Every player is responsible for scoring goals as well as keeping them out of our net. We need to get better in both areas.”
From day one, Gendron has encouraged his players to make plays but he has also instructed them to throw the puck to the net front if there isn’t a play to be made to try to catch the goalie off-guard or to extend the offense.
A bad-angle shot by Devin Shore was misplayed by BU goalie Sean Maguire on Maine’s first goal and Ben Hutton’s wrister from the left circle on a two-on-one while Maine was two men short rolled across Maguire’s pads and lap and into the net for Maine’s third goal.
“When I worked with Jacques Caron, the goaltending coach for the (New Jersey) Devils, he used to say goalies love it when you don’t shoot because when you don’t shoot, they don’t have to make a save. Every time you shoot the puck you have a chance to score. Devin Shore takes an innocuous shot and it’s 1-0 Maine. If he didn’t shoot, it can’t happen. Ben Hutton throws a lollipop on net … it wasn’t like he sniped it top shelf … but it went in. Sometimes they squeak in,” said Gendron.
Maine has generated at least 32 shots on goal in eight of its 10 games and the Black Bears have averaged 36.2 shots on goal over its last four games.
Maine scored a five-on-three power-play goal against BU giving the Black Bears an 80 percent success rate in five-on-threes (4-for-5) this season.
Gendron said the success rate in the five-on-threes is a matter of good decision making by his players and “precision of execution.
“Putting a pass on the tape (of a teammate’s stick) is more important than any strategy,” said Gendron. “When you score a five-on-three goal, it gives your team a lift. It can be a downer if you don’t score on a five-on-three and if you give one (shorthanded goal) up, it can really be a downer.”
Maine also scored some transition goals which has been another point of emphasis in his attack-oriented system.
“Those are things we work on so I can say to the team it wasn’t an accident or a fluke that you scored seven goals. You dedicated yourselves to work on those things,” said Gendron.
The team’s work ethic continues to please Gendron but he said they must sharpen up their defensive play with the nation’s top-scoring team, No. 7 Boston College, coming to Orono for a 7:30 game on Saturday night.
The Eagles are averaging 4.45 goals per game.
“We made a ton of mistakes against BU. We gave them too many real good chances,” said Gendron. “We need to correct that stuff this week because Boston College has some weapons. If we blow (defensive zone) coverages and make technical mistakes on defense, it’s going to be hard to keep the puck out of our net. We can’t rely on Marty (goaltender Martin Ouellette) exclusively to provide us with defense. He’s not our only defender out there.”
Gendron said Ouellette turned in an exceptional 34-save performance against BU with 15 of his stops coming off high percentage opportunities.
Ouellette now has the nation’s 14th best save percentage (.930) and 20th best goals-against average (2.08).
Gendron moved sophomore Steven Swavely, who has been almost exclusively a center, to right wing with center Shore and left wing Connor Leen against BU and he was happy with Swavely’s play.
“He did a good job on the boards in the defensive zone, he did a good job on the forecheck and he made some plays as well,” said Gendron.