Coming off a weekend sweep of Boston College, the University of Maine men’s hockey team is hot, helped by contributions from its younger players.

But hot meets sizzling this weekend.

The Black Bears will be re-introduced to Boston University this weekend. BU’s squad is also showing off some depth.

Maine (12-8-3, 9-7-2 Hockey East) plays BU (15-6-1, 12-4-1) at 7 tonight and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, both games in the Agganis Arena.

BU beat Maine 5-1 on Dec. 10. But now the Terriers are even better, despite losing two of their better players.

Forward Charlie Coyle left the team to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and forward Corey Trivino was kicked off the team after a Dec. 11 arrest on several charges, including indecent assault.

Still, it has been a Happy New Year on the ice for the Terriers, who are 5-0 in 2012, including a dominating sweep of Providence last weekend, beating the Friars 6-1 and 8-0.

“Addition by subtraction sometimes. You never know,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said of BU’s improvement. “For whatever reason, they are playing their best hockey and are coming off an unbelievable weekend against a real good Providence team.

“We’ll have our hands full down there. We know that, but we’re excited.”

Maine has long featured one of the best lines in the country with Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond.

But the game-winning goals last weekend came from junior Matt Mangene (set up by sophomore Mark Anthoine of Lewiston) and freshman Connor Leen (set up by sophomore Jon Swavely).

“I think we found our identity as a team,” Leen said. “A lot of guys have stepped into different roles. We’re coming together as a team.”

Whitehead shook up his Nos. 2-4 lines, which includes four freshmen and two sophomores.

“All the freshmen gave us quality shifts (against Boston College),” said Whitehead, who also pointed out a first-year defenseman from Scarborough in Jacob Rutt.

“Jake Rutt was great back there,” Whitehead said. “Three games in a row he’s been a horse. He’s really emerging for us.”

Rutt is playing in front of sophomore goalie Dan Sullivan, who made some big saves when BC picked up the pressure last weekend.

But BU counters with their own hot goalie. Senior Kieran Millan was named the Hockey East defensive player of the week, stopping 62 of 63 shots against Providence.

This weekend could come down to the power play. BU and Maine rank 1-2 in the league in penalty minutes. And in the power play, Maine ranks first (33 of 111), and BU second (28 of 117).

BU is ranked No. 2 in the national poll, but No. 1 in the Pairwise rankings, the system that is similar to the formula used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Maine, No. 20 in the national poll, is 18th in the Pairwise.

“They’re one of the hottest teams right now,” Anthoine said. “The game (tonight) sets the tone.”

Since that BU loss, Maine is 6-1-1.

“We just got to keep this going,” Mangene said. “We know BU will be a difficult test.”


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