One of the key factors in the University of Maine’s three-point weekend against Boston University — a 4-2 win and 2-2 overtime tie — was its penalty-killing.
The Black Bears held the talented Terriers without a power-play goal in 11 chances over the two Hockey East games and that extended their streak of successive penalty kills to 24.
One of those kills came in overtime on Saturday night.
“We built a mentality. We expect to get the job done,” senior right wing and captain Mitch Fossier said. “There are a lot of veterans out there on the kill. It’s chemistry.”
The 5-2-1 Black Bears haven’t allowed a power-play goal in their last four games and they rank 12th among the 60 Division I teams with a 90.7 percent success rate (39-for-43) when a man down.
UMaine began making serious inroads into a successful penalty kill at the end of last season, when it killed off 16 of the last 17 short-handed situations.
The Black Bears have now killed off 55 of the last 60 opponent power-play opportunities (91.7 percent) spanning last season and this year.
“The biggest focus has been on moving as a unit of four,” said senior center Tim Doherty, who usually kills penalties with Fossier. “You can’t have two guys going [aggressively] and two not going. If one guy goes, the other three have to respond. As long as we work as a unit like that, our penalty-killing is going to do real well.”
Freshman centers Ben Poisson and A.J. Drobot have been used on the penalty kill as have junior transfer defenseman J.D. Greenway and freshman Adrien Bisson.
“We have some experienced forwards but we also have some new players who are very good,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “Everybody has to do their jobs. Having a real good goalie [junior Jeremy Swayman] is also important to the penalty kill. All of those things combine for sure.”
“We knew we had a lack of experience on defense and some younger guys were going to have to step up and they absolutely have,” Fossier said.
UMaine (2-1-1 Hockey East) travels to UMass Lowell (6-2-2, 3-0-1 HE) for games on Friday and Saturday nights.