Are the Maine Black Bears at a crossroads?

After a solid sweep at home of Providence on October 28 and 29, Maine has dropped four straight Hockey East games to drop below the .500 mark. Losses at Boston College and New Hampshire last weekend don’t seem too bad. But two losses at home to Massachusetts-Lowell could be cause to raise the red flag. That leads the three things I learned this weekend:

1. Does Maine have goaltending problems?

The Black Bears started Martin Ouellette on Friday and pulled him midway through the first after he looked out of it on two of Lowell’s first three goals. Dan Sullivan took over an looked pretty decent the remainder of the game but then allowed goals in bunches in the third on Saturday to allow the River Hawks to come from behind for the road sweep. Both goaltenders have goals against averages north of three and save percentages south of .900. Both of these will have to change if the Black Bears are to earn home ice this season.

2. On the other hand, Lowell (as I predicted two weeks ago) seems like the real deal

Some commenters criticized when I said that Lowell’s offense is much improved this season. I said that I love how aggressive the River Hawks are and was reminded by one reader that Providence for years tossed everything and the kitchen sink at the net yet missed the playoffs three straight seasons. Lowell, though, seems to have some talented players, as evidenced in a couple of the goals this past weekend (find video of Scott Wilson’s goal on Saturday and Chad Ruhwedel’s game winner from the same game) and they are beginning to finish their chances.

3. Despite 255 meetings, Boston College and Boston University can still make history

You would think that BU and BC playing so often that there wouldn’t be much history left to be made, but remarkably Terriers netminder Kieran Millan made some on Sunday. Millan became the first BU goaltender since the beginning of Hockey East in 1984-85 to shutout Boston College. The last BU shutout of the Eagles came all the way back on March 1, 1983.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Earn home ice this season?  Good grief what is wrong with you.  They’ll be lucky to even play in post-season this year.  They’re in 7/8 place tie win% wise and haven’t even gotten to the tough part of the HEA schedule. 

  2. I think it is less on the goaltending and more on the bonehead penalties they keep taking.  It wouldn’t be as bad if their special teams hasn’t been horrible!  They have 5 power play goals and have allowed 5 shorthanded goals! What happen to the days when Maine played good defense?  Oh yeah It ended when Walsh got sick!!!  I just don’t get what Whitehead is coaching them?  Get rid of him and head in another direction.  

  3. Anybody up for starting a fund to pay out Tim Whitehead’s contract and hire a new coach?  Money certainly showed its face in the Alfond renovations.  Paying out 2 more years won’t cost near as much.

    • You know, I think both programs could benefit from a trade like that.  I hate to say this, but both coaches have a high hockey IQ, but are uninspired in their current employment. 

      Maine could use a hardnose like Kevin Sneddon to slap some discipline into the players (just keep him on a tight leash and don’t give him an extended contract), Vermont could use a softie like Tim Whitehead to make them feel better about themselves (same rules should apply). 

      I think that would be a great trade.  Is it possible to trade coaches under contract?

    • The word has gotten out.  I’m not sure if anything (concerning money) has been mobilized yet. 

      We may be in luck anyway.  Steve Abbot (athletic director) has really cracking the whip on UMaine coaches lately, notably firing the women’s basketball coach with a year left on her contract.  Maybe Whitehead’s uninspired coaching will have Abbot venturing the idea of sacrificing $340K for a better hockey team. 

  4. Candace, I think your picks are perfect. I don’t know much about BG, but Omaha has reached that….I’ll believe it when I see it……territory. Can’t wait to see how UND/UMD plays out, should learn quite a bit about both teams after the weekend.

    • Unless things get interesting in St. Cloud this weekend, Ill be watching the #1 vs. #2 games. Finally we get to see UND match up against a team of their caliber. Cant wait!

    • Yep, credit where due. Great pick, figure UMD is going to play with their butts on fire.

      They really know how to play against North Dakota. I think it’s something like 4 of the last 5 times UND has been held to 2 goals or less, it’s been by Duluth. And of course They have the last 2 defeats of North Dakota.

      I think Denver sweeps, though.

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