ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team will get an accurate gauge of its progress on Saturday night when the nation’s top-scoring team, the Boston College Eagles, invade Alfond Arena for a 7:30 game.
The 8-2-2 Eagles (4-0-1 in Hockey East) are ranked seventh in the country and are averaging 4.50 goals per game behind left wing Johnny Gaudreau, who leads the nation in points (23) and points per game (1.92), and centers Kevin Hayes (6 goals, 12 assists) and Billy Arnold (3 & 15). Arnold’s 15 assists are the most in the country.
Maine sophomore Devin Shore, who last year became the first freshman to lead the Bears in scoring since Gustav Nyquist (2008-09), will be tested since the 6-1, 185-pounder is Maine’s only center who is taller than 5-foot-9 and heavier than 175 pounds.
BC’s top three centers are the 6-0, 210-pound Arnold, the 6-3, 205-pound Hayes and Patrick Brown, who is 6-1, 197.
“They have some big centers who have a ton of skill,” said Shore. “It’s something we’ll definitely be aware of. But size isn’t everything. If you get body position on them and play smart, you don’t give them a chance to manhandle you.”
Shore is off to a solid start with two goals and five assists for the 5-4-1 Black Bears (2-2-1 HE). He plays in all situations and has three game-winning points (1 goal, 2 assists).
His first even-strength point came on a wrister from a difficult angle in Maine’s 7-0 win over Boston University.
“I had been generating chances five-on-five and I had a lot better chance to get assists or goals than I did on that one. It was a flukey goal. But sometimes production has to do with bounces,” said Shore. “Points aren’t a 100 percent reflection of my play. No question I want to contribute five-on-five but I take a lot of pride in not being scored upon.”
He worked a lot on his shot over the summer and said he also focused on “my first three strides. It’s a skating man’s game. I want to be a well-rounded player.”
“He’s a good player. You have to keep an eye on him,” said BU coach David Quinn.
“He has made such improvements on and off the ice as a player and a leader,” said Maine captain Brice O’Connor. “His work ethic shows in all areas of his game. He does all the little things right.”
Shore, who had six goals and 20 assists last year, said he is more confident with a year under his belt and was honored to be named an assistant captain by his teammates.
“I have a ton of respect for my teammates. I want to do them proud,” said Shore.
Martin Ouellette, with shutouts in two of his last three games, will man the pipes for the Black Bears with his 5-4-1 record, 2.08 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. He will be opposed by either Brunswick junior Brian Billett (5-2-1, 2.36, .921) or freshman Thatcher Demko (3-0-1, 1.96, .928).