ORONO — The University of Maine hockey team is on a three-game winning streak, coming off of a two-game sweep at last-place Vermont.

Tonight presents a challenge for the Black Bears — a top-tier team.

Boston University (9-5-1, 7-4-1 Hockey East) plays Maine (6-6-2, 5-5-1) at 7:30 p.m. in Alfond Arena. It is the first meeting of the rivals this year.

BU, ranked No. 11 in the USCHO Division I poll, is one of the top four teams in Hockey East. So far, Maine is winless against the other three (0-2 vs. UMass-Lowell and 0-1 vs. Merrimack and Boston College).

Maine coach Tim Whitehead called BU “very dangerous. Even when they aren’t playing their best, they can still beat you.”

The Terriers have been up and down at times, losing to Holy Cross 5-4, and later beating Boston College 5-0. BU has won six of its past seven games, including a 2-1 decision Thursday at New Hampshire.

Although Maine has yet to beat a top team, Whitehead said he has seen progress the past three games.

“The big thing is that we’re getting consistent goaltending,” Whitehead said of Dan Sullivan (3.01 goals-against average). “And the power play continues to improve.”

Maine has scored 11 times on its past 22 power plays. That could come in handy tonight against BU, the second-most penalized team in the league.

The Black Bears again will rely on their top line of Spencer Abbott — the leading scorer in Hockey East with 23 points — Bryan Flynn and Joey Diamond.

Besides winning the past three games, Whitehead was pleased with how the Black Bears did it. Bouncing back after Clarkson tied them; beating Vermont in the first game, despite trailing after two periods; and holding off Vermont’s charge in the first period of the second game (12 shots) to take a 2-0 lead.

“We fought through some tough stretches,” Whitehead said. “All good signs.”

Tonight, Maine will have to fight through a tough team.

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