When you are named an All-American, it puts a target on your back.

Opposing teams know if they are going to have success, they must find a way to neutralize you.

University of Maine junior center Devin Shore and junior defenseman Ben Hutton have been dealing with that scrutiny this season for the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team.

They were Second Team East All-Americans a year ago as well as being chosen to the Hockey East’s first team.

Both got off to a slow start this season, but they have come alive of late as they lead the Black Bears into a two-game league series this weekend at the University of Vermont.

After mustering just one goal through his first five games, Shore has notched two goals and two assists in his last three games.

In last weekend’s sweep of UMass, Shore scored a goal on Friday night and made the pass that led to Brian Morgan’s overtime game-winner. On Saturday, he triggered a three-goal, third-period rally by tipping a Mark Hamilton shot home.

Hutton was pointless through his first five games but scored a power play goal in a 3-3 overtime tie with Alaska-Anchorage. He also had an assist in the Friday night victory over UMass.

“Obviously, there has been some pressure on me and Devin, but we’re just trying to play our games,” said Hutton. “You don’t change things just because pucks aren’t going in. Devin and I had been getting our chances, but they hadn’t been going in. But I’ve started getting my legs going, and I hope it continues.”

“I don’t feel things have gone terribly,” said Shore, the team’s captain. “I’ve been working hard. But it has been nice to see the puck going in lately. It has been good for my confidence.”

Shore said he knows he is going to face the opposing team’s best defensive line every game, but it comes with the territory. He said he uses it as motivation.

“It’s a fun challenge,” he said.

Shore and Hutton have been encouraged by the team’s recent four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) that followed its 0-4 start.

“The compete level has been up,” said Hutton.

”We’ve been playing smarter. We’ve been making more plays,” said Shore.

They know the Catamounts, ranked 14th in the country, will provide a stiff challenge.

“They’re a very good team, and they play hard,” said Shore.

Last season, Shore led the team in scoring with 43 points on 14 goals and 29 assists. His 29 assists were tops on the team as were his three shorthanded goals and 129 shots on goal.

Hutton scored 15 goals to lead the country’s defensemen, and he also set a school record for goals by a defenseman and became the first Maine defenseman to ever lead the team in goals. He was chosen New England’s top defenseman.