This Week in Hockey East: December 5, 1997

While it’s true that every team in the league holds games in hand on the Huntington Hounds — led by BU’s five — you still have to admire the way that last year’s cellar-dwellers, who were predicted to finish there once again, have rebounded.

Their own Billy Newson took Koho Player of the Week honors for his assist and game-winning goal against UMass-Amherst in last week’s only league action.

Hockey East tapped UMass-Amherst’s R.J. Gates as the Rookie of the Week for his back-to-back goals in the same game.

Rounding out the honors is Providence freshman Boyd Ballard, who earned the Heaton/Hockey East Goalie of the Month award. In November, he had a 5-1-1 record, a 2.83 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage, and a 3-0 shutout against Minnesota-Duluth. In that time, he also was selected twice as Rookie of the Week.

With Hockey East posting a 31-11-2 record against nonconference foes, it says something about the league when it can also award its Player of the Week and Goalie of the Month awards to a sophomore and freshman, respectively.

On to the games…

The marquee attraction this week is No. 2 Boston University and No. 8 Boston College in a Sunday-Tuesday home-and-home. You have to go back many years to the last time these two megarivals faced off when both were in the top ten.

Is it Sunday yet?

Last week’s record in picks: 8-5 Season’s record in picks: 60-24

No. 2 Boston University (9-1-0, 3-1-0 HEA) vs. No. 8 Boston College (11-4-0, 5-3-0 HEA)

Sunday, 2 p.m., Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, MA

Tuesday, 7 p.m., Walter Brown Arena, Boston, MA WABU-TV68

Boston University continued to roll on last week with 4-0 and 6-3 wins over Clarkson and St. Lawrence, respectively. The wins completed a two-weekend, four-game sweep of ECAC teams. At the same time last year, the Terriers went 0-2-1 against the two North Country teams and Yale.

"We’ve got a lot of things to improve on, but getting all four of those wins and sweeping Clarkson and St. Lawrence — which isn’t done too often — was nice," said coach Jack Parker.

"In general, I was pleased. We seemed to play fairly well in most areas of the game. We didn’t play with a lot of emotion, but sometimes that happens when you play non-league teams. You don’t see them that often, so you don’t get as pumped up."

The power play, which ended October only 2-for-13 (15 percent), has ended November with a bang, going 7-for-13 last weekend to raise the Terriers’ mark to over 31 percent, good for second overall in Hockey East.

"It’s a couple things," said Parker. "One, we’re generating more shots, especially more shots from the point. That has helped us. But we’re also doing a better job of screening the goaltender. We’re not just letting him see everything and just trying to tip in shots, when actually we could be trying to screen instead. Those two things have helped.

"But I think the biggest thing is that we’ve improved our intensity, in terms of A: getting the puck into the zone, and B: getting control of the puck and keeping control. We’re not just taking a shot and having it come out or carrying it into the zone and having them take it away from us and throwing it back out. We’re doing a much better job of getting it in there and getting control."

Four big league games now loom for the Terriers before the break, beginning with Merrimack on Thursday (previewed below), the two BC tilts, and the final regular-season matchup with UNH next weekend.

Although many Hockey East teams have rivalries with BU born out of the Terriers’ consistent standing among league leaders this decade, on Commonwealth Avenue none matches that with Boston College. Finally, these two archrivals meet with both teams nationally ranked.

"I think that’s more for the media and the fans to get excited about," said Parker. "I think that when BU plays BC, it doesn’t matter if either one [is] in the top ten or not, or if one team is having a great year and the other team isn’t having such a great year.

"The bottom line is they’ve always been tough, emotional games. Even when they weren’t going well, or when they were going well and we weren’t going so well, there seemed to be a lot of energy and intensity generated by both clubs. Both clubs usually play real well against each other.

"The fans will be more excited because it seems like it means more — and it does mean more that way — but BU-BC and BC-BU games always mean something."

Although Michel Larocque was pulled from Saturday’s game after one period because Parker felt his goaltender was still hindered by a hip pointer suffered in practice, he still hopes to get Larocque two of the four games before the break. Tom Noble will definitely get the Thursday night game against Merrimack, to allow Larocque a little extra healing time. If Larocque is 100 percent by Sunday, he will likely then get that game, allowing for a natural return to the 50-50 rotation.

The two netminders are compiling eye-popping statistics. Noble has recorded a 1.76 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage, while Larocque stands at 1.85 and .925, respectively.

Boston College finished off an eight-game-in-16-days stretch with a Tuesday night 6-3 win over Brown, a 6-0 Friday night shutout of St.Lawrence and a 4-3 loss to Clarkson. Marty Reasoner, who has now scored in six straight games, totaled five goals and two assists in the games.

"Against St. Lawrence, we were perfect," said coach Jerry York. "Everything we touched just turned out to be the right play.

"Clarkson was, I thought, a much stronger team than St. Lawrence. We were in a battle all night long. Third period, we were dead even when they got a break on a power-play goal with about eight minutes left to give them the win, 4-3. We had some chances and they had some chances. We were two pretty evenly matched teams, I think.

"Clarkson is, in my mind, certainly a top ten team and probably a good bet to win the ECAC. I was very impressed with them."

The Eagles have been pretty impressive themselves.

"We’re very pleased with a lot of the things that are happening here," said York. "We just finished a month of November in which we played 11 games and finished 8-3. More importantly, we played some very good teams and showed some good promise for the most part, if you throw out the Maine game [a 12-5 loss]."

During the month, freshman goaltender Scott Clemmensen established himself as the team’s clear number one. He has now played in 11 of 14 games. Although his statistics and those of backup Andy McLaughlin suffered in the Maine blowout, both remain respectable: Clemmensen with a .871 save percentage and 3.19 goals-against average, and McLaughlin with .863 and 3.23 numbers.

Lost in the shuffle, at least for now, is Mike Correia, who had the inside track on the top spot going into the season. Correia was the only returning netminder with any significant collegiate experience, if 11 career decisions can be deemed significant.

Correia, however, suffered a severe hamstring pull in the preseason and was sidelined while Clemmensen and McLaughlin had a chance to strut their stuff. He’s healthy now but isn’t expected to see action against BU, the Eagles’ final games before the break.

"Mike is full up, ready to go 100 percent," said York. "Now it’s just a coach’s decision. It’ll be hard for us to get him into the lineup. He hasn’t played since October. He’ll probably be a second semester guy for us." Even then, there is no guarantee that Correia will break into the top two, something that seemed a fait accompli entering the season.

"He’ll have to earn it," said York. "Andy McLaughlin has posted some great numbers."

This week, Clemmensen will need to outduel two of the best in the league in BU’s Noble and Larocque.

"They’re even better because of their core defensemen in front of them," said York. "To get to the goalies, you have to get through their defense. They’re playing very well defensively as a team, particularly the six ‘D’ that play."

Certainly one key edge that BU has is the experience factor, as exhibited by its wealth of seniors, compared to BC’s reliance on primarily younger players.

"I’m very impressed with Boston University’s play this year, particularly by their senior class," said York. "Chris Kelleher, Chris Drury and Mike Sylvia have been real catalysts behind their fine start. Certainly, Tom Poti, [Tommi] Degerman and some of the younger players [have also contributed,] but that senior class, when you throw Tommy Noble in with two shutouts, makes them an imposing team."

PICKS: In a single game at a neutral site, the edge would go to BU: better goaltending, a more experienced defense, and even though most of the offense comes from one line, Drury’s ability to propel that line in big games is tough to match.

But the pick here is for the two Commonwealth Ave. titans to split, BC winning 3-2 at home on Sunday and BU returning the favor 4-2.

No. 2 Boston University (9-1-0, 3-1-0 HEA) and Army (7-6-0, 0-6-0 vs. aligned D-I) at Merrimack (5-8-0, 2-5-0 HEA)

Thursday, 7 p.m., Volpe Complex, North Andover, MA

Saturday, 7 p.m., Volpe Complex, North Andover, MA

So with two games against Boston College and another against UNH following the Thursday night Merrimack tilt, could Boston University look past the Warriors?

"I don’t think our team could ever look by Merrimack, to tell you the truth, because they’ve given us fits over the years," said coach Jack Parker. "It’s always a battle.

"You can go up there and watch them play a team and think, Boy, they don’t look that sharp tonight, but then they play you and don’t look like the same team. There’s no question that they’re always geared up for us. We have to make sure we’re geared up for them.

"We’ve had enough experience with not having great games against them. The last time we played them was in our building, the second-to-last game of the season. We had to win in order to win a Hockey East championship. We were tooth-and-nail with them, 2-1, and they’ve got more guys back from that game than we do, so I’m sure that we’ll have our hands full.

"It’s a tough building to play in so I doubt my guys will be thinking, Boy I can’t wait for that BC game. If they are, I’ll have to shoot them all!" he added, laughing. "They have no common sense!"

While BU has won its last five and nine of 10, Merrimack’s fortunes have been heading in the other direction. The Warriors, after winning four of the first five, have now lost five straight and seven of the last eight.

It’s getting tougher to figure out this team that is now struggling after earlier beating both Boston College and Maine.

Most recently, they lost 2-0 at home to Princeton and then traveled to New Haven, Connecticut, where they lost 6-2 to Yale.

"I thought we were right there," said coach Ron Anderson. "There were a lot of missed opportunities on Friday night. We had 35 shots. We had chances to score goals, we just didn’t.

"On Saturday night, Yale got a quick 3-0 lead on us and we had to play catch-up. That’s pretty hard to do in their building when they’re the first place team in the ECAC. We just came out a little flat down there. They had us 3-0 before we knew what happened."

Unfortunately for backup goaltender, Tom Welby, those three quick goals at Yale were on the only three shots he saw before getting yanked after 8:08 of play. With Cris Classen the apparent number one, and two other candidates pushing for the backup role, Welby could feel Roland Sperlich or Tim Thompson breathing down his neck. Even so, Anderson reaffirmed his faith in Welby.

"Right now, we still think [Classen and Welby] are our top two," said Anderson. "Tommy, like any freshman, is trying to get used to what’s going on around him.

"On the other hand, we’re trying to find an opportunity to get our other two guys in a little bit. One of them has been in a little. The other one, unfortunately, on the nights when he was not dressed, those were the nights that opportunities presented themselves.

"If you don’t happen to be dressed on a night when there’s a chance to get some work, guess what? You missed that opportunity."

After the Warriors opened the season allowing more than six goals a game, Anderson juggled his lineup to try to achieve a better defensive chemistry and also altered the team’s strategic approach to cut down on the goals-against.

Unfortunately, the changes have had the side effect of taming an offense that had been among the league leaders. In the last three games, the Warriors have scored a total of only three goals.

"We were concerned about how many goals we were giving up," said Anderson. "We were trying to become a little more defensive without impacting our offense, but obviously our offense has been impacted. Whether it’s because of more defensive concentration or because we’re just in a little bit of a rut, I’m not sure. We’re still getting our chances. We’re just not putting it in the net right now."

As a result, the juggling is likely to continue.

"We’ve got some people that every game we’re learning new things about them," said Anderson. "Sometimes good and sometimes bad, so we’re mixing things around as they develop. We had some people who went from not being in the lineup to playing regular shifts. They’re struggling again, so maybe it’s time for them to watch again. We’ve got a lot of people and we’re going to use them all. We just hope we can get consistent enough that we can get set on a specific group and stay with them."

Despite the recent setbacks, Anderson remains upbeat.

"We’re not discouraged," he said. "We know we’re playing well enough to get the job done. On certain nights, you’re not going to get it done and on other nights, you might. It just happens that misfiring on some scoring opportunities has cost us some games, but we’re not discouraged by any means.

"We know we’re normally a better second-half team than a first half-team anyways, so we’re setting our sights squarely on BU. We’ve got two games before we go into exams and one more game [after that against Dartmouth], so it’s really like a three-game semester. We’ll set our sights on all three games."

Army has remained undefeated against non-Division I teams with recent wins against St. Anselm and New England, but is still looking for its first D-I victim. Even so, the Cadets have swept a Nebraska-Omaha team that has already beaten UMass-Amherst and Union, and swept Denver. And the Cadets have lost by only a goal to Providence and took both UMass-Lowell and Colgate to overtime before succumbing.

Daryl Chamberlain remains the mainstay in Cadet nets while Greg Buckmeier and Andy Lundbohm once again are the most potent offensive weapons in the team’s arsenal.

PICKS: BU could be ripe for the upset here, but the Warriors’ recent play doesn’t inspire the confidence needed to walk out on that limb. BU, 6-4.

After the BU game, Merrimack could be ripe for an upset. Army has already thrown scares into teams with better records than the Warriors. If they think they merely have to show up, they will lose. Merrimack more than shows up, though, and wins 5-3.

No. 5 New Hampshire (10-3-0, 4-3-0 HEA) vs. UMass-Lowell (6-5-1, 4-2-1 HEA)

Friday, 7 p.m., Whittemore Center, Durham, NH Saturday, 7 p.m., Tully Forum, Lowell, MA

New Hampshire beat UMass-Lowell 4-2 and Maine 7-0 last weekend to take its second straight Governors’ Cup. In the championship game, the Wildcats sustained a

scary injury to Mark Mowers

which, thankfully, proved to be only a concussion, as opposed to the spinal injury it first appeared to be.

Even so, "only a concussion" makes sense as a phrase only in a relative sense. In every other way, it’s an oxymoron. UNH senior Greg Dumont was sidelined this year because of multiple concussions and a look around the hockey world, both professional and collegiate, points to extreme caution when dealing with this injury.

As a result, Mowers will not play this week and could also skip the Dec. 12 match against BU to take advantage of the break until post-Christmas tournaments.

In every other respect, the past week was an impressive performance by the Wildcats. Although purists could complain about Lowell’s two goals in 15 seconds at the close of the second period, as well as its strong play in the third, UNH still put on a clinic of offensive skill, solid defense and strong goaltending.

Derek Bekar made a strong case for Most Overshadowed Star with two pivotal shorthanded goals and an assist against Lowell, and three assists against Maine. Bekar has accumulated points in every game he’s played this year.

UNH is 9-1-0 with Bekar in the lineup and 1-2-0 in the games in which injury sidelined him. Coincidence? Perhaps, especially since the two losses were to No. 8 Boston College. But there’s no denying his contributions.

"He’s playing absolutely terrific," said coach Dick Umile. "All the credit is to him. He worked really hard in the off-season. That little extra jump that he’s got when he’s going by people is no accident. He’s paid a big price working in the weight room. He had deceptive speed, but he’s got explosion now."

Individual performances aside, the domination of then-tenth-ranked Maine was stunning.

"The whole thing came from defense," said assistant coach Chris Serino after the game, speaking along with fellow assistant David Lassonde while Umile went to the hospital to see Mowers. "Our defensemen stayed with them in our zone and didn’t give them any room. By doing that, we [forced them to] turn it over and got some good offensive breaks."

"Our forwards did a tremendous job backchecking and supporting the defense," added Lassonde. "I don’t think they had more than five odd-man rushes in the game. For a team like ours that’s somewhat wide-open in the way we play, that’s a tribute to our forwards and our defense."

Praise also went to goaltender Sean Matile, who, even though the game did not count as a league game, is on a pace to shatter league career shutout records.

"I thought Sean did a tremendous job of controlling rebounds and keeping them out of areas where they could outnumber us [on the power play]," said Lassonde.

"Shorthanded situations are 70 percent goaltending," added Serino. "They’re going to get shots. A lot of it is goaltending and Sean did a great job. As far as the offensive part of it goes — scoring shorthanded goals — that’s a tribute to great players making great plays."

UMass-Lowell will be looking to get back for the 4-2 loss to UNH, as well as redeem itself following a lackluster 4-0 loss to Vermont in the consolation game.

It was a weird one," said coach Tim Whitehead, after the loss to New Hampshire. "The difference in the game was the two shorthanded goals. You don’t see that a lot. They’ve got some dangerous players and we got a little lazy on the power play.

"Our so-called top two units weren’t really focused for the game and it came back to haunt them twice on the power play. Fortunately for them, a couple of their teammates were a little hungrier, so they made a game of it. It actually turned into a real good hockey game.

"In the third period, we carried play at some points and UNH carried it at other points. It was kind of an end-to-end, real good period, but we just dug ourselves a hole…. We were actually playing pretty well and just wanted to get an ugly goal, but just couldn’t seem to get one."

Reigning Rookie of the Year Greg Koehler got shifted to the wing in the third period, as Whitehead tried to juggle a lineup in which his key players weren’t producing. Koehler has been shut out in five of his last six games.

Whitehead’s juggling, however, couldn’t lift his team out of a consolation game stupor that lead to the 4-0 Vermont win.

"This afternoon was kind of a non-game for us," he said. "The guys didn’t seem to have much fire. I would have liked to have thought we could have gotten up for it. A win is a win. It all goes into your season record. The team that loses the championship game is going to have the same record for the tournament as Vermont, so a win definitely would have helped us.

"Maybe if we’d gotten a quick one, we could have ridden that through, but that’s what they did. It didn’t look like we had much legs as far as getting it going for a comeback."

On the technical side, Whitehead saw some specific areas of missed opportunities.

"We had some good shifts where we had a ton of pressure, but we kept shooting it into [Vermont goaltender James Tierney’s] stomach the whole night," said Whitehead. "That’s why we didn’t score. He’s a butterfly goalie and we kept putting it right into where his strength is. That hurt us.

"And we had trouble from the point, getting the puck to the net. As a result, we didn’t get any rebounds, which you normally get from a butterfly guy. That hurt us."

PICKS: New Hampshire could be vulnerable without Mowers, but the Wildcats are playing well enough to sweep anyways: 6-3, 4-3.

Northeastern (6-5-1, 5-3-1 HEA) vs. UMass-Amherst (2-9-0, 0-7-0 HEA)

Friday, 7 p.m., Matthews Arena, Boston, MA Saturday, 8 p.m., Mullins Center, Amherst, MA

Northeastern came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat UMass-Amherst 4-3 in the Huskies only action last weekend.

"We showed a little character coming back after being down by three on the road," said coach Bruce Crowder. "We found a way to win, so that was the plus and the most important thing."

By taking the only league action of the weekend, Northeastern leapfrogged BC into first place. Sensible Northeastern fans — who might call that phrase redundant while catty foes might term it an oxymoron — would be best to ignore games in hand and all the asterisks that might ruin the fun and simply savor the moment. The first place Northeastern Huskies. After last year’s trip to the cellar, the phrase does have a ring to it.

"It definitely sounds better than what was happening last year," said Crowder. "But we’ve got a long way to go. It’s definitely not something to tip your hat to, that we’re able to get into that position and be in first place. We realize that there’s a lot of work yet to be done here.

"We’ll take it. It’s something to be proud of, but there’s a lot of hockey left to be played."

Billy Newson assisted on one goal and scored the game-winner, for which he earned Hockey East’s Koho Player of the Week award. In the first 10 games this year, the 5-8 roadrunner had four assists, but hadn’t yet scored a goal. On the Tuesday leading into the weekend, he finally notched the bung-puller and the bubbly kept pouring against the Minutemen.

"He used to rely a lot on his speed to make up for mistakes," said Crowder. "What he’s getting better at is learning that he has to control his speed a little bit and change speeds.

"He’s really been snakebit this year. He’d been creating a lot of offensive chances for himself. Hopefully, what he’s realizing is that whatever he does up until he shoots the puck is fantastic and looks good, but what really counts is whether or not that lights goes on or whether he’s a part of it going on. I think he’s getting better in each and every game."

This week, the Huskies and Minutemen clash again in the second and third games of the season’s series. Psychologically, three games in a row against an opponent should make it a bit tougher to sweep, especially for a young team like Northeastern.

"I don’t think it affects it much at all," said Crowder. "Our thing with this young team is that no matter who we play, we’ve got to try to get better the next night out. We made a lot of mistakes on Saturday night — which a young team will do — but we found a way to win. What we’d like to do is continue to find ways to win, but eliminate our mistakes. Then when we get into games down the stretch that are going to be huge — not that these two aren’t — we play better.

>From the UMass-Amherst perspective, the season might be nicknamed Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. The Minutemen are coming oh-so-close, but in hockey, unfortunately, a tough loss only gets you an L.

"Despite where we stand record-wise, we’ve been in every game," said coach Joe Mallen. "We had a 3-1 lead against Northeastern the other night that we lost halfway through the second period.

"In our last two league games, the Providence game down in Providence and the Northeastern game, we outshot both teams. We just couldn’t outscore them. Right now, we’ve got to tighten up a little bit defensively and bury our chances.

"[Marc] Robitaille and [Boyd] Ballard played real well against us. Our goaltender, basically, has to outbattle their goaltender."

Which has been a surprising concern. Brian Regan, who for three years has weathered the lack of notoriety that goes with playing well for a losing team, has suffered some lapses. Most egregious was the 65-70 footer in overtime that handed a game to Vermont the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. That heartbreaker helped prompt Mallen to try sophomore Dan DiLeo in his second career game.

"I certainly wanted to see what he can do in a game situation," said Mallen. "He hadn’t had a start for us. It was designed to make our entire team work hard instead of relying on Brian Regan to make all the saves. And the finish to the Vermont game was a real long-shot goal they scored to end the game. So all three of those factors went into [the decision to start Dan]."

One major positive, though, has been R.J. Gates’s ability to bury the puck. In just four Hockey East contests, and five overall, the freshman has scored three goals, including the two against Northeastern that earned him Rookie of the Week honors.

"We’re seeing a lot of bright spots from our younger players right now," said Mallen. "I have to also give credit to Kris Wallis as well. They’re linemates and Kris is a good passer and a good playmaker. He’s really been getting the puck to R.J. and R.J. has really been tough in and around the net.

"But we have to give R.J. Gates a lot of credit. He’s basically a recruited walk-on. He’s found a way into the lineup and we’re extremely proud of his effort."

With only this series and two ECAC games before the break, the Minutemen need to break through with their first league win to avoid a Hockey East goose egg going into the break.

"At this point, we’ve got to stay positive," said Mallen. "Hopefully, the chemistry of our younger guys mixed in with our older guys is going to click in and we’re going to see some success down the road."

PICKS: Northeastern takes the opener at home, 4-2, but the Minutemen gain the split at home, 4-3.

Maine (6-4-1, 4-3-0 HEA) at

Providence College (8-3-1, 3-3-0 HEA)

Friday, 7 p.m., Schneider Arena, Providence, RI Saturday, 7 p.m., Schneider Arena, Providence, RI

Maine rode three power-play goals to a 3-1 win over Vermont in the Governors’ Cup opener, but got blown out of the championship game 7-0 by UNH.

"It was just a night where it wasn’t going to go your way," said coach Shawn Walsh. "What was going to go wrong, was going to go wrong. When you have nights like this, you just put them away, try to learn from them and move forward.

"Fortunately, in hockey you play 35 or 40 games. You don’t play just 10. So you just have to come back."

A key advantage for UNH, according to Walsh, was its superior experience, especially in comparison to a young Black Bears squad. UNH dressed two freshmen defensemen and two on the fourth line. Maine, on the other hand, dressed seven.

"Our team is capable of these games," said Walsh. "We’re a young club. You look at a UNH team and they’re very experienced. We play four freshmen on our second power play. We’re going to have nights like this.

"You hope they develop and get better. Jason Krog had four goals as a freshman. Now, he’s one of the best players in college hockey. That’s the growth you want to see."

Unfortunately for the Black Bears, there was little opportunity to use their 38 percent power play, which had been so effective in the opener, against UNH.

"The only real power play that mattered was the first one," said Walsh. "UNH did a good job and we didn’t. We didn’t score on it, but you can’t ask your power play to score every time. The next time we got a power play, the game was over."

Despite the loss, Walsh was happy with how his team played at the tail end of a lopsided game, especially in light of the potentially combustible feelings following the

Mark Mowers injury.

Oftentimes, a team frustrated with the scoreboard vents its frustrations in ugly ways. With UNH showing admirable restraint following the injury, a potentially ugly situation never even had to be defused.

"I was pleased that we were classy in the third period," he said. "We played hard. No garbage. That’s the way to represent our school."

Maine now travels to Providence for two games against a team it handled to a 6-3 tune in Orono on Nov. 1. The Black Bears will miss Ben Guite for the first tilt, due to the game disqualification he received for the Mark Mowers hit from behind. They will also be without Dan Kerluke, who will be sidelined for about a month with a shoulder injury.

For their part, the Friars beat Yale at home 5-2, getting more pucks into the back of the Bulldog nets than any team has so far this year. The win gave the Friars seven wins in their last eight games, but against Princeton on Sunday, they found themselves staring at a third-period 4-1 deficit. Three unanswered goals, including the game-tying one with six seconds left in regulation, got Providence a 4-4 tie.

"I thought Friday night was a decent game," said coach Paul Pooley. "I thought we played well as the game went on. I’m glad that [goaltender] Mark Kane had a nice game and played well. He made some nice saves in the third and held onto the victory for us."

Although Pooley was glad to see the comeback against Princeton, he gave his team lower marks than their win over Yale.

"We had one power-play goal, but besides that, our power play really wasn’t functioning," he said. "We made a lot of mistakes. We weren’t making the easy play. It’s fortunate that we came back, no question."

Mike Omicioli continues to shine with a goal and five assists in the two weekend games and a 3-2 loss to Northeastern the preceding Tuesday.

"He’s really playing well, making some great plays," said Pooley. "We’re getting a lot of solid performances.

"Jason Ialongo is really adding to our puckhandling skills on the ice.

"We’re a solid team where everybody contributes."

When these two teams faced each other a month ago, the Friars saw first-hand the vaunted Maine power play. The Black Bears went 4-for-5 on the man advantage.

"If we continue to take poor penalties, we’re going to be in trouble," said Pooley. "It’ll be over; there’s no question. We’ve got to get that out of our system, because we’re taking foolish penalties. They’re a very, very explosive hockey club on the power play."

Pooley also doubts that any particular penalty-killing strategy is the kryptonite for Maine’s man-advantage Supermen.

"I don’t think it matters who they play against," said Pooley. "Obviously, at 39 percent, they’ve probably [had success against] teams like Merrimack that don’t pressure and teams like BU that pressure like crazy. They’ve got the capabilities to handle anything.

"They’ve got the personnel that has the ability to score on the power play because they’re smart, they move the puck, they get to the net, they’ve got shooters, passers and guys in front. They’re very dangerous."

PICKS: Maine has put together back-to-back wins only twice this season, but look for the Black Bears to make it three: 5-3, 3-2.