It will be like going back in time this weekend for the University of Maine men’s hockey team when it visits St. Lawrence University for a two-game, non-conference series.
The Black Bears and Saints won’t be playing at St. Lawrence’s Appleton Arena because the facility is undergoing a $17 million renovation and construction delays have prevented the team from playing there.
Instead, the two teams will play at the 8-year-old Roos House Athletic Center, home of the Division III SUNY Canton Kangaroos.
The arena, which holds fewer than 1,000 spectators, likely will remind players of their youth hockey days.
UMaine goes into the series with a 7-5-2 and St. Lawrence is 3-10-1.
UMaine head coach Red Gendron is taking the situation in stride.
“It doesn’t matter [where we play],” Gendron said. “We’re playing a college hockey game against a Division I team. The ice is going to be slippery. That’s all that matters. We’re delighted to go up there and play. It’s a very nice rink.”
St. Lawrence has already played four games there and has lost all of them. The average attendance for the contests was 607.
“It’s a fine rink. It’s a little bit better than a community rink,” said Providence College coach and former UMaine and Old Town High School assistant Nate Leaman, whose Friars beat the Saints 6-0 there on Oct. 18.
“They have stands on just one side. There was no atmosphere there. It’s off campus and none of the students showed up,” Leaman said.
Leaman added that was an advantage for his Friars because Appleton is a tough place to play.
He said playing at the smaller venue had no impact on his players.
“It didn’t faze us. It was our first road game, and we had a game at Clarkson the next night to look forward to. We were focused,” he said.
Leaman said the situation for UMaine may be a little different because they have to play there twice.
“The hard part for Maine will be bringing energy to the game,” he said.
The Black Bears won’t have to worry about any time-consuming video reviews of goals or penalties.
“They don’t have any overhead cameras,” Leaman said.
Leaman said it is like playing at Merrimack College “if you take the stands out on one side,” but that the actual playing surface is similar to the Friars’ Schneider Arena.
“The corners are a little deep. It’s not tight,” he said.
The Saints have a first-year head coach in Brent Brekke, and one of his assistants is former UMaine center Ben Murphy.
“He has them going in the right direction. They play hard. Maine will have their hands full,” Leaman said.
“[Brekke] will have his team ready to play,” Gendron said. “We have to play to our identity. We have to play as the best version of ourselves.”
St. Lawrence’s other losses at the Roos House Athletic Center include Vermont (2-0), Colgate (4-1) and Cornell (6-1).