Maine Black Bears
USCHO prediction: Fourth
Coaches’ prediction: Fourth
Last season: Fourth (10-20-3, 9-11-1 Hockey East)
Both the league coaches and I underestimated Maine last year. The Black Bears may fail to reach the fourth spot, but it won’t be for lack of effort.
“I think for the coaching staff, it was a very positive year to try to implement the way we’re trying to play with our hard work, and keeping our feet moving and making some good puck decisions,” coach Richard Reichenbach said. “Obviously, any time you finish the season 10-20, it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you want more, but in league play, we finished in fourth place. That was the first time we got to host a Hockey East playoff game, which was a big deal up here.”
It was the Reichenbach’s first full season in charge.
“I think overall, we did some positive things last year compared to the year before,” Reichenbach said. “I think [senior goaltender] Meghann Treacy established herself and had a very consistent year from the start to the end.”
Another sign of progress came on the recruiting trail.
“We lost some key players in [forwards] Jennifer More, Hailey Browne, Katy Massey, who were really players that went up and down with their offensive contribution, but were really just players you could rely on in any situation,” Reichenbach said. “We have Cailey Hutchinson, Nicole Arnold, and Lydia Murray to try to replace those three. What we like about them is they’re a little bit bigger, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger right from the start.
“Then we graduated Brittany Huneke and Jessica Hall on D and replaced them with three D: Allyson Matteau, who is a very big, strong, fast, powerful D, she played on the Canadian U-18 team; Cassidy Herman is from Ottawa and just very relentless, and came back in great shape, very impressed with the beginning; and Carolyn Menges, who is big and powerful and has a good shot.
“In net, we got Carly Jackson, who is from the Canadian U-18 team, so she’s going to redshirt this year, and probably step in and replace Meghann, but she’s going to be really good this year too, because she’s going to be a key to push all three of our other goaltenders.”
Maine’s last three seasons have ended with a loss in sudden death overtime. The last one, coming on home ice, was particularly rough.
“Maine is in a little bit of a different situation than the Boston schools in that there’s not much sports-wise going on here,” Reichenbach said. “There was a lot of media involved in what was going on. For our girls, it was an amazing experience. They do a lot of community service stuff and talk to a lot of people, so there was a lot of support for them. As far as the actual experience, it was heartbreaking. It was very disappointing for our coaching staff, because our seniors had been through a lot.”
The team did well when it could generate few goals, but as is the case with every team, it struggled when the offense went cold.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting our head up around the net and making that extra move or not,” Reichenbach said.