Say this for the Maine hockey team — when facing teams that don’t play particularly good defense, at home or on neutral ice, the Black Bears can really put on an exciting show.

They haven’t really proven anything else yet this winter, but there is that.

The season opened with a 3-3 tie with Michigan State in Portland. There was a 5-4 overtime loss against Massachusetts in Trenton, N.J. Throw in a 3-3 home tie against New Hampshire and last night’s 5-4 loss to the Wildcats in Portland, and you’ve got four fun hockey games, if no victories.

Maine Coach Red Gendron said it best after his team couldn’t quite keep pace with New Hampshire on Tuesday:

“The lesson in the first semester was that you can’t just do amount ‘x’ of good things and not do the whole package, because you end up with no points and just an entertaining game for the crowd.”



Maine sits at 4-10-4 on the season, all four victories coming in Orono. The Black Bears were no match for Quinnipiac or Boston College on the road, getting shutout three times. They tied and lost at Union, and lost at Massachusetts-Lowell and New Hampshire.

Now comes the rematch at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Manchester, N.H., technically a neutral site.

It will be interesting to see if Maine has enough fortitude to snap the Wildcats’ five-game unbeaten streak.

The good news for the Black Bears is that, after this game, they get four home games against Colgate and Connecticut. Colgate is 5-12-1 with 71 goals allowed in those 18 games; UConn is 5-10-1 and has yielded 55 goals. That is reminiscent of the teams that Maine has had offensive success against. Michigan State is 5-12-2 with 62 goals surrendered; UMass is 6-8-4 with 63 goals against. New Hampshire is now 7-6-4 but has been leaky on defense, also allowing 63 goals.

At the Cross Insurance Arena last night, the 3,809 fans who braved the storm to attend were treated to a back-and-forth game after New Hampshire grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period. In the third period, there were four goals scored in a stretch of 5:34, two by each team.

Great stuff, especially for New Hampshire.


Maine’s Will Merchant scored twice, his second a beautiful shot from the slot. He has eight goals to lead the team.

He also took the final of the Black Bears’ eight penalties, sniping at the officials after being whistled offside with 15.2 seconds remaining.

So he was offensive in both senses of the word at different times in the game.

That’s the way the season has gone so far for Maine.

“I’m happy to come back (after a three-week holiday break) with a strong performance,” Merchant told me in a phone interview from the team bus afterward. “But we took too many penalties. We kind of gave them all their goals once again.”

An enjoyable diversion, they can be.

A team to be feared? Not so far.

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