Team Overview: The continuous improvement exhibited by coach Jeff Beaney’s squad over the past two seasons has not gone unnoticed around the league — the huskies aren’t sneaking up on anyone anymore.
“We have a veteran team this year,” said Beaney. “But with the experience and depth, we need to have a better start than the 1-8-2 we got off to last year. That start made every game in the second-half a playoff type game just to move up in the league standings. I think the guys have a better understanding of what’s needed to compete and we’re focused on making good decisions on the ice that can lead to good results.”
The Huskies will be led by two balanced lines including captain Mark Carragher who totaled thirty-three points on eighteen goals and fifteen assists last season. His seven power play goals led the team and his offensive contributions will be needed this year for the Huskies to compete in the top half of the league.
Another strength on the USM squad is found in the goaltending tandem of senior David Beckles and junior Ryan Sullivan. Beckles excelled last year down the stretch — in 19 games he had an 8-8-1 record with a 2.51 goals against average and .912 save percentage. Beaney has confidence in both of his netminders and expects depth in goal to help his team this season.
Special Teams: Forty percent of the team’s total offensive came on the man advantage — the huskies will need to augment their potent power play with more 5-on-5 goals. Their 27 goals against while playing shorthanded represented over thirty percent of the total goals scored against them in the season. Improving the penalty kill could help to swing some tight games their way.
Schedule: Any start better than 1-8-2 this season would be better than last year but the schedule is not kind with early season match-ups with Norwich and Middlebury highlighting the schedule. A Thanksgiving match-up at the Babson Invitational with Geneseo is also an early season challenge.
Summary: Get out of the blocks well and play like they have in the second half during the past two seasons and Southern Maine may challenge for a higher home-ice seed in the playoffs.