Friday, October 18, 2019

Weekend Preview: Maine Black Bears

After a strong opening weekend Keith Petruzzelli will look to keep QU undefeated

Maine Head Coach: Red Gendron (7th season) 84-116-25

2019-2020 Maine record: 2-1-0 (0-1-0 Hockey East)

All-time vs. Maine: Quinnipiac is 6-7-1 against Maine

Maine Key Players: Tim Doherty (F), Mitchell Fossier (F), Eduards Tralmarks (F), Adam Dawe (F), Patrick Shea (F), JD Greenway (D), Brady Keeper (D), Jeremy Swayman (G)

It's the seventh season of the Red Gendron era that has yet to go according to plan for the Black Bears. After its fourth losing season in six years, the program has yet to to even make a Hockey East semifinal at the TD Garden. This is how far this program has fallen in the Red Gendron era as its clear that Maine made the wrong decision to part with former head coach Tim Whitehead in favor of Gendron. His most recent contract extension takes him to 2021 but will Maine fire Gendron if they suffer another losing season? Its really a sad state of what was once a proud Maine Black Bears hockey program.

This season has started out 2-1 for the Black Bears, but they are anything but a 2-1 team. Two weeks ago Maine got smoked 7-0 on the road at Providence but the next night at home they got shut out in an exhibition 5-0 to the University of New Brunswick. Last weekend they rebounded with a 7-1 and 2-1 overtime win against Alaska-Anchorage who is not a very good team. So which team is Maine this season? I tend to think its closer to the team that got smoked against Providence and New Brunswick. I do not think there is a lot of talent on this team.

The Black Bears do not return one scorer who had double figures in goals last year. The top goal scorer in Chase Pearson went pro after last season. Captain Mitchell Fossier has had back to back 30 plus point seasons so he is a player to watch along with junior Eduards Tralmarks who has had some success against Quinnipiac in the past. Fellow senior captain Tim Doherty needs to have a big year if Maine wants to improve upon last year. Doherty had 17 points a year ago and was a minus 14 for the Black Bears. Its not a great puck possession team and they struggle on the face-off dot. While they put in nine goals last weekend lets remember that was against a bad team and will more likely than not struggle against superior teams.

This is a very young an inexperienced Maine defense. They lost three seniors on defense along with sophomore Brady Keeper who left for a pro contract. Wisconsin transfer JD Greenway should be a big help on the Maine defense as the Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick brings size and skill. He will have to lead that defense as fellow juniors Cameron Spicer and Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi did not play a ton last season. Sophomore Simon Butala is one of the most experienced defensemen on the roster for Maine who have four freshman they are rotating into the lineup.

Jeremy Swayman a Boston Bruins draft pick is back for his third season in goal. He is a goaltender that sees a ton of shots and despite having a goals against average over 2.70 each of this first two years has a save percentage at the .920 mark. He is the backbone of a Maine team and really makes up for Maine having a weak defense. Expect Swayman to be very busy this weekend as Maine is not a great puck possession team so Quinnipiac will likely dominate in shots.

The Bobcats will be looking to open a season 4-0 in back to back years for the first time in their Division I history and fourth time since moving to the top level in the NCAA.

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