The bright spot for the University of Maine men’s hockey team so far has been its power play.
The Black Bears enter their Friday-Saturday series at Providence College with the nation’s second best power-play percentage (.321). Boston University has converted at 37.5 percent, but has played only two games.
UMaine has scored two power-play goals in four of its six games and one in another. Since going 0-for-3 in the opener at New Hampshire, the Black Bears are 9-for-25 with the man advantage (36 percent).
UMaine has achieved that success despite losing players who scored nine of its 24 power-play goals last season. That includes Tim Doherty, who tied Adam Dawe for the team lead with six power-play goals.
The Black Bears have already received power-play goals from five different players this season. Senior Emil Westerlund has scored three and also has an assist. Junior Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup has racked up the most points on two goals and four assists.
Senior Ed Tralmaks has tallied two power-play goals while junior Dawe, sophomore Ben Poisson and freshman Lynden Breen each have three assists.
“We tend to look at certain individuals as being integral to a team’s offensive success,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “It can be just individual players, but sometimes it’s the sum of small parts, players with less expansive resumes, that can be just as good if not better than having some parts that are huge.”
Gendron said the two power-play groupings play well together and have received excellent coaching from assistant Ben Guite.
The power play could be a key factor this week as UMaine visits Providence College. The Black Bears have lost 14 in a row at Schneider Arena dating back to a 5-0 win on Dec. 4, 2010.
It is one of two Hockey East rinks, along with Northeastern’s Matthews Arena (0-11-1) where Gendron, in his eighth season, hasn’t posted a win.
“We haven’t won there in a while but this is a new year and each team is a new team. There is no magic that precludes us from winning at Schneider Arena,” Gendron said. “The outcome of the game will be determined by how well we play, how well we execute and how well we adhere to our own identity,” he said.
UMaine’s focus will be on defense in the small rink against a 16th-ranked Providence team that has four productive lines and some mobile defensemen. UMaine has allowed 4.83 goals per game this season, which ranks 50th among 51 Division I teams.
The 1-4-1 Black Bears are led by Schmidt-Svejstrup (2 goals, 6 assists), Dawe (1 & 5) and defenseman Jakob Sirota (1 & 5). The 4-4-2 Friars feature Tyce Thompson (5 & 5), Parker Ford (2 & 6) and Greg Printz (3 & 4).
Providence is coached by former UMaine and Old Town High School assistant Nate Leaman, who recently guided the United States team to the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Canada.