ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team has been almost as good on the road as it has been at the Alfond Arena this season and the Black Bears are hoping their recent strong road play continues this weekend when they visit Matthews Arena in Boston to take on a desperate Northeastern University team.
Maine, currently in fourth place in Hockey East and ranked 10th in the USCHO poll, is fighting for a home ice berth in the league quarterfinals while Northeastern is tied with UMass for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Maine is 5-2-2 in its last nine Hockey East road games and 3-1 in its last four, including two wins at No. 5 Boston University and one at No. 7 UMass Lowell.
On the year, Maine is 7-5 at home in league play and 5-4-2 on the road.
The Black Bears will be looking to bounce back from a subpar performance in a 4-1 home loss to UMass on Saturday night.
“I think we feel a little less pressure on the road,” said senior left wing Spencer Abbott. “We don’t feel like we have to put on a show like we do at home because we have so much support [at Alfond Arena]. On the road, it’s just a matter of going and trying to get the job done.”
“There are limited distractions on the road,” said junior defenseman Mark Nemec. “We really focus in and try to keep our game simple. We try to play to our strength and take it to the other team as much as possible.”
“We have a good road mentality this year which is different from previous years,” said senior defenseman Ryan Hegarty. “We just try to outwork teams and if we can do that this weekend, we should do well.”
Maine was 5-5-4 on the road in league play last season but all of the wins came against teams that finished seventh or lower. Maine was just 7-18-1 away from home in the previous two years combined.
Work ethic is critical, senior center Brian Flynn said.
“We didn’t work hard Saturday night,” Flynn said. “But we got back to working hard in practice this week.
“At this stage of the season, most teams are playing their best hockey,” said Flynn. “Every team works hard and you have to be ready for that. It’s especially tough to win two games on the road at this stage because all the teams are fighting for points.”
In addition to working hard, Flynn said it will be of the utmost importance to “manage the puck well and play solid team defense. We have enough guys who can put the puck in the net and we have a good enough power play so we don’t have to worry about scoring as much as we do about defending.”