ORONO, Maine — Mark Anthoine has gone back to basics.
After a frustrating junior season, the University of Maine’s senior left wing and assistant captain has rebounded nicely so far this year by focusing on the fundamentals.
Anthoine, who slumped to four goals and seven points last season after notching 12 goals and seven assists his sophomore year, is leading the Black Bears in scoring with six points on four goals and two assists.
He didn’t produce a point this past weekend. He and his mates struggled to solve University of Massachusetts goalie Steve Mastalerz in a 1-1 tie and a 2-1 loss at Amherst, Mass., but Anthoine is looking for a better series this weekend when Maine hosts Vermont for a two-game, Hockey East set.
“I’ve been working on a lot of small skills,” said Anthoine, who plays in all situations. “We don’t have to work too much on conditioning because our practices are very up-tempo and we don’t have a lot of breaks. That gives us extra time to work on the little things like doing what you need to do in front of the net on the power play.”
The intense practices have been extremely beneficial, according to Anthoine.
“Coach is always telling us how you practice is how you play,” said Anthoine.
Anthoine has focused on “trying to get to the net” with more frequency.
“I’ve got to get to the dirty areas [in front of the net] more,” said Anthoine. “If you keep doing the right thing over and over, you’ll get rewarded.
“When you’re slumping or things aren’t going well, you might do the right thing one or two times but then you get discouraged and don’t continue to do those things,” explained the Lewiston native. “And sometimes the puck will bounce by you. Some of it is luck, too.”
Gendron has been impressed by Anthoine and his attitude.
“He plays his tail off every night. He endeavors to do the little things. When you tell him to go to the net, he goes. He’s a hardworking kid who is one of the fittest kids on the team,” said Gendron. “And he’s a great leader.”
Anthoine is a tough competitor, according to senior defenseman and captain Brice O’Connor.
“He knows he has to fill a bigger role this season now that he is a senior with a letter on his jersey,” said O’Connor, referring to the “A” for assistant captain.
“He knows we need him to put the puck in the net, especially on the power play,” added O’Connor. “He stays after practice to work on the little things. He’s a good role model for the younger guys.”
“It’s great to see him having success early this season,” said senior goalie Martin Ouellette.
“It’s good for his confidence and good for our offense. He works hard in practice every day. He’s always been the type of player who is in your face in front of the net battling for loose pucks, screening the goalie and trying to get those dirty goals.”
Anthoine, whose 11 power-play goals tied him for first nationally two years ago, has already scored two man-advantage goals after collecting just one last season.
Gendron and his team will go back to work on finding the back of the net this week.
The Black Bears managed just two goals, both on the power play, including one a five-on-three, on 66 shots against UMass last weekend.
“We had plenty of good chances. We just have to finish them off,” said Gendron. “At the same time, we have to be a lot better. There’s a bunch of things we have to work on like if a goalie is prone, you’ve got to get the puck up in the air and put it top shelf. If you’re being walled off, you’ve got to work harder to get inside position [to drive the net]. And our defensemen have to do a better job delivering pucks from the point.”
Shooters also have to do a better job reading situations.
Getting shots off more quickly is important, although there are times a shooter needs to hold the puck a split-second longer to prevent it from being blocked or to allow a screen to form.
Maine is averaging 2.57 goals per game, which is the same as it is allowing. It is 35th among 59 teams in the country offensively and 19th defensively.