ORONO, Maine — Vanessa Vani has been the Maine women’s hockey team’s leading scorer the past two years after being the fourth-leading point-getter her freshman year.

Genevieve Turgeon owns the school record for career saves (1973), games played (70) and saves in a season (907). She set the single-season saves record last year.

They are now seniors and they are looking to turn around the fortunes of the program beginning Friday at 7 p.m. when Maine hosts North Da-kota in a season-opening two-game set. They will play again Saturday at 2 p.m.

Maine went 4-27-3 a year ago, 3-15-3 in Hockey East.

“They’ll be very key for us,” said junior forward Jenna Ouellette.

“I’m very, very excited. It’s my last year and I don’t want to leave anything on the ice. I want to finish with the best year I possibly can. I don’t want to look back on this year and say ‘I wish I could have done this, I wish I could have done that,” said Vani, who had 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) a year ago and 26 (11 & 15) two years ago.

Vani had 24 (11 & 13) as a freshman.

“This is a new year so it’s a new start for me,” said Tur-geon. “I have to find the same energy and try to focus and be as consistent as I can. I want to talk [more] on the ice and I want to challenge every [shot].”

Vani said one thing she in-tends to do this year is “get it into my mind to shoot the puck [more] and look for the open spots.”

She is more of a playmaker so the transition from passer to shooter is going to be “very tough.

“But it’s one of the things I’ve been trying to work on,” said Vani. “I need to score more.”

Women’s HEA adopts shootout

The Women’s Hockey East Association has adopted the shootout for its league games.

It wasn’t approved for men’s Hockey East games but the University of Maine men’s team will use it for non-league games.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Vani. “But it’s going to be nerve-wracking on the players.”

“It’s exciting. It’s challeng-ing,” said Turgeon. “The fans like it. It’s obviously part of the [NHL] game and it’s part of our game now so we’ve got to be good at it.”

The men’s Hockey East As-sociation tried it for two sea-sons (1994-95 and 95-96) before scrapping it. In those two sea-sons, each team used five shooters apiece before going to a sudden-death format.

This time around, each team will have three shooters, simi-lar to the NHL format, before going to a sudden-death system.

In both leagues, there will be a five-minute, sudden-death period before the shootout is used to break the tie.

Games that go to the shoot-out will be counted as ties in the eyes of the NCAA but, in the women’s HEA, an extra point will be awarded to the shootout winner while the loser will still earn a point.

Injuries continue to plague Bears

The UMaine football team has been forced to take on the meat of its Colonial Athletic Association schedule while working around numerous in-juries to key players.

On offense, the Bears (2-3, 0-2 CAA) were without speedy wide receiver Landis Williams (foot/ankle) for the second straight week and Fluellen, their top two offensive threats. Also on the shelf is wideout Desmond Randall (appendec-tomy) and tailback Jermaine Henderson (knee).

The defensive losses are more numerous, with defensive backs Dominic Cusano, Steven Barker and Trevor Coston all gone for the season with knee injuries. Starting strong safety Brandon McLaughlin sat out Saturday with an undisclosed ailment, while backup line-backer Levi Ervin missed his second game in a row with a knee injury.

Senior free safety Lamir Whetstone gutted it out against JMU despite a sore shoulder and junior transfer Jonas Rousseau left the team for per-sonal reasons.

“Most of the things we’re dealing with up here, they’re not short-term,” Cosgrove said of the injuries. “You saw a lot of 18-year-olds on the field Satur-day night and you’ll probably see more of them as we march forward.”

UMaine unveils third jersey

Following in the footsteps of the men’s hockey team, the UMaine football squad intro-duced a third game jersey for Saturday night’s contest.

The so-called “Alfond jer-sey,” purchased with funds raised as part of a matching grant program sponsored by the Alfond family, is Columbia blue with a thick navy blue stripe down each side and navy blue numerals shadowed in white.

The Bears wore their tradi-tional navy blue jerseys during pregame warmups, then sur-prised the fans by changing into the new shirts before run-ning onto Morse Field.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...