ORONO — Brendan Robbins has always been able to generate scoring chances for himself with his tenacity and speed.
And the puck has started to go in with more regularity this season for the University of Maine junior right wing.
Entering Friday’s Hockey East game at Providence College, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound native of Nashua, New Hampshire, is the Black Bears’ leading goal scorer this season. He has 10 in 26 games along with seven assists.
Robbins scored 10 goals combined in his first two seasons.
The improvement in his finishing was best exemplified in last Friday’s 4-3 overtime win over Merrimack in which he notched his first hat trick since his youth hockey days.
“He has always had a good shot but he didn’t necessarily have the feel for how to apply it and, over time, he has gotten better,” said UMaine head coach Red Gendron. “He has worked really hard to improve his game and he still plays with that same tenacity every time he suits up.”
Robbins said he has spent a lot of time working on his shot and finishing touch.
“I worked on improving my skills around the net … putting pucks on net and hitting my spots,” said Robbins. “This year it has kind of showed for me. I’ve got a couple more goals than I had last year and the season isn’t over. I just like contributing to the team and doing the best I can.”
He posted six goals and 13 assists in 34 games last season.
Robbins said when he was working on his game he tried to put himself in game-like situations at high speed.
“I did little things around the net like rebound drills … popping home rebounds or getting the puck upstairs or working on my composure around the net; being in the right areas,” said Robbins.
He said he also gained confidence last season playing with seniors Blaine Byron and Cam Brown, who were UMaine’s leading scorers.
Scoring goals and racking up points enables Robbins to, “go out there and get yourself the opportunities so you can continue to score.”
He said the hat trick was something “I never expected to have here. It was an extremely cool night, one that I will remember forever.”
Robbins, who has been a valuable penalty killer, has scored two shorthanded goals and Gendron added him to a power-play unit five weeks ago.
“He was inserted on the power play because he was making things happen 5-on-5,” said Gendron. “He deserved an opportunity. He earned it.”
Gendron said Robbins has improved each year.
“What he came here with, and what he still displays every night, is amazing tenacity, work habits and compete level. But, gradually, his poise with the puck and his shooting ability (has improved),” said Gendron.
Robbins said he feels pretty good about his season to date.
“I’m focusing on the little things — positioning, shot-blocking, all the little details that matter,” he said.
The Black Bears will try to snap Providence’s recent domination in the series, including 11 straight victories and 15 games without a loss (14-0-1).
“We’re going to have to outwork them and outwill them,” said Robbins.
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