The University of Maine men’s hockey team swept Alabama-Huntsville last weekend, and dropped two spots in the Hockey East standings.

Maine began the weekend in third place with 24 points (11-7-2 record), but had played more games than contenders UMass-Lowell and Merrimack.

As Maine won its two non-league games, UMass-Lowell swept Vermont to vault into second place with 26 points. Merrimack beat Massachusetts on Saturday, after a Friday loss to Boston University, moving into a tie for third with Boston College (25 points).

BU (13-6-1) leads with 27 points.

All five teams, by the way, are in the top nine in the Pairwise Rankings, the rating system that mimics the NCAA Tournament selection process. Maine is ninth.

Merrimack and UMass-Lowell have still played one fewer game than their contenders, but they also have the toughest schedule at the end. Not only do they still have to play each other three times, Merrimack has a two-game series with Boston College, while UMass-Lowell has to play two games with BU, and one with Maine (this Saturday).

The Black Bears’ remaining games: At Providence and at UMass Lowell this weekend, two home games against Massachusetts, two at Northeastern and a season finale against New Hampshire in Orono.

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Remember coach Tim Whitehead’s theory of breaking the season up into four-game blocks, after the Black Bears began the year 3-6-2? His thinking was that the climb back to contention would not seem so daunting if Maine went at it four games at a time.

So far, so good. Over the next four four-game sets, Maine has gone 3-1, 4-0, 2-1-1 and 4-0. Thus a 16-8-3 record, so far.

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The UMaine women’s hockey team is 5-0-1 in its last six games, including a sweep of Vermont last weekend. The Black Bears, 15-8-6 and 9-6-2 in Hockey East, are in fourth place, one point ahead of Providence.

Maine gets a chance to measure its progress this weekend with two games at first-place Northeastern (18-6-3, 12-3-2).

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Maine football officially concluded its signing period with the addition of two more recruits — defensive lineman Lucas Melo (6-foot-2, 290) of Lake Mary, Fla. and linebacker Christophe Mulumba of Quebec.

Melo is transferring from Pierce College in Los Angeles, while Mulumba played prep school football last season in Kent, Conn.

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UMaine softball is already starting its season when it plays this weekend at a University of South Florida tournament in Tampa.

Former Maine pitcher Lynn Coutts takes over as head coach, inheriting a team that went 18-31 last year.

The roster includes four Mainers — freshman catcher Katlin Norton of South Portland, senior infielder Brynne Davis of Winslow, junior outfielder Emily Lenor of Bucksport and senior pitcher Ashley Kelley of Hermon.

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The St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team began the season 4-5, but the Monks have won 11 of their last 12 games. St. Joseph’s remains undefeated in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference with a 9-0 mark. The Monks have two games, tonight vs. Pine Manor and Saturday vs. Rivier, before a Valentine’s Day game at fellow-unbeaten Emmanuel.

Megan McDevitt of Cumberland leads the Monks with an 11.2-point average. Ashley Geel of St. George averages 11 points. MacKenzie Dufour of Augusta and Allie Parent of Camden have recorded 68 and 65 assists, respectively.

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The Nor’easters of the University of New England lead the Coastal Commonwealth women’s basketball standings. UNE (17-4, 12-2 in the CCC) has a two-game lead with four games to play.

UNE features four players averaging double figures — Kelly Paradis (14.0) of Newport, Beth Suggs (12.4) of Bath, Margo Russell (10.3) of Madison and Lauren Rousseau (10.2) of Biddeford.

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