Thursday, November 1, 2012

Previewing the Maine Black Bears

This weekend, the defending National Champs will travel up to Orono, Maine before coming back to Boston to face off against the UMass Minutemen. So far this year, Maine has just one win which came against Army in the Icebreaker Invitational. The Black Bears have losses to Quinnipiac and St Lawerence at Alfond Arena and have yet to win a Hockey East game this season as they got swept last weekend @ Providence. Last year, Maine had the top three scorers in Hockey East with Diamond, Abbott, and Flynn. However, with Abbott, O'Neil, Flynn, and Mangene all gone, Maine has some serious holes to fill up front. On defense, the Black Bears return seniors Mike Cornell and Mark Nemec who will try to help develop talented freshman Ben Hutton and Conor Riely. The biggest hole for Maine this season ? Their goaltending. Up to this point in the season, juniors Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellete have split time in between the pipes as both have struggled, evident by their .902 and .868 save percentages. If Maine has any chance of beating or at least keeping the game tomorrow close in the third period, whoever is in net will need to bring his A game to Alfond Arena.

As for BC, no place has been more haunted in terms of Hockey East arena's than the Alfond. Last year, BC was swept in late January at the hands of Maine and is a combined 1-4-1 in Orono since the 08-09 season. While Maine has been struggling mightily this season, I wouldn't be surprised if they come out and play some good hockey tomorrow. You know with a sellout crowd and the best team in the nation in the house, they're gedoing to be flying early on. BC needs to do what they did last Friday @ Lowell. Whether the storm early, keep the opponent off the board, and capitalize when you have your chances. I think that if Maine is going to put up a fight, they are going to need Parker Milner to let up some bad goals and with they way he is playing right now, I wouldn't be too optimistic about it. Another thing I hope BC continues to do is capitalize on their power play chances. Maine has taken the most penalty minutes so far this year (97) but they do have a good penalty kill which ranks fourth in Hockey East. Hopefully, we see BC get some early power plays and put the game away early so the crowd isn't into it.

I look for a tough game tomorrow because quite frankly, winning in this place has never come easy for BC over the past few seasons. With another strong effort similar to last weekends, BC should take this game rather easily but if not, watch out for a struggling Black Bear team to give it everything they have tomorrow night.

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Third and fourth line need to score tomorrow. If there is a weekend in which the bottom two lines start to score, this is it....they need to it up in tomorrows game.

2. Power Play. I have a feeling that Maine is going to come out and take some bad penalties early on. If BC continues to score at will on the man up, then they could run away with this one.

3. Goaltending. Obviously, this is always a key but for some reason, BC goaltenders have had a tough time in this barn. Look for Parker Milner to end that streak tomorrow.

Players to Watch-

Joey Diamond- Leads Maine with 3 points so far this season. Also leads the team with 31 penalty minutes.

Stu Higgins- Also has three points this year but also has the most shots on net for the Black Bears.

Last Time Out- BC beat Maine in the Hockey East championship @ The Garden.

Prediction- BC 4 Maine 1

Until tomorrow,


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