ORONO, Maine — Consistency and a better understanding of work ethic have given the University of Maine women’s hockey team a late-season boost.
The Black Bears’ sweep of New Hampshire over the weekend (3-2 in overtime, 3-1) represented their first two-game winning streak since they took a pair from UNH on Feb. 18-19, 2012.
Maine is now 5-4-2 in its last 11 games after snapping a 22-game winless streak (0-17-5) with a 2-1 win over Brown on Dec. 6.
A 1-0 victory over Providence on Jan. 19 ended a 17-game winless skein (0-13-4) against Hockey East opponents. Maine is now 5-16-5 and 3-10-3 in Hockey East.
“The players are starting to understand the work ethic they need to put in to be successful. The effort has been pretty consistent since the Christmas break,” said Richard Reichenbach, the co-coach along with his wife, Sara. “In the past, we relied on our better players like [Brittany] Dougherty, [Brittany] Ott and [Danielle] Ward to keep us in games.”
“We’ve been playing better defense and have been putting more pucks in the net,” said junior center and captain Jennifer More. “We gained some confidence from our win over Providence.”
“We’ve also been getting good leadership,” Reichenbach added.
Two of the catalysts behind the surge have been sophomore right wing Audra Richards and junior goalie Meaghann Treacy.
Richards leads the team in goals (12) and points (14) and has three game-winning goals.
She scored the only goal against Providence, notched an extra-attacker goal with 42 seconds left to force overtime versus UNH and then scored the game-winner. She also had the game-winner in the second UNH game.
“She has become more committed to her defensive play and that has put her in position to get the puck a lot more. She’s very good at driving wide on defensemen and beating them with her speed,” said Reichenbach.
Treacy made 27 saves against Providence and 61 in the two wins over UNH.
“She has been giving us good goaltending,” said More.
Reichenbach said moving top-scoring defenseman Kelly McDonald (3 goals, 7 assists) to center has given them a highly skilled player in the middle of the ice.
Reichenbach said they have been able to skate four lines to take advantage of their speed and that helps to wear teams down.
Maine travels to Vermont for a 4 p.m. game Saturday.