For a moment, the University of Maine’s hockey team looked like it was making some headway.
A 4-1 victory over Boston College on Jan. 28 at Alfond Arena gave the Black Bears a 3-1-2 record over their last six home games.
But UMaine has been a worse team on the road, and last weekend’s lopsided 4-0 and 5-0 losses at Boston University and Merrimack College, respectively, were painful reminders that there is a ton of work to be done away from Alfond Arena.
UMaine enters this weekend’s series at the University of Massachusetts, the defending NCAA champion, with an 0-9-1 road record, compared with a 4-14-4 record overall. The Black Bears have been outscored 43-16 away from home, including a whopping 17-3 margin in the first periods of their 10 road games.
They have been outscored 10-0 in the first period of their last four road games and 14-1 over the last six.
The game-opening goals for Merrimack and BU both came on the power play 5:31 and 1:47 into the game, respectively.
“There is a different feel on the road for some reason,” said first-year head coach Ben Barr. “We’re hoping bad things don’t happen to start the game. And when you’re hoping for that, you’re almost asking for bad things to happen.
UMaine graduate student center and captain Jack Quinlivan doesn’t see any difference with the team’s mental preparation prior to games at home or on the road, but said that when the puck drops for a road game, “we’re halfway in and halfway out.”
“We have to be determined to dictate the pace of the game and how it is going to go,” Quinlivan said. “It’s all about taking control of the game and being assertive. If we do that, we’ll get off to better starts and hopefully get better results.”
UMaine has had its struggles on the road in recent years.
UMaine was 3-10-2 a year ago when it played all its regular season games away from home due to state and university COVID-19 restrictions.
Between the 2016-17 seasons, the Black Bears had a 23-game winless streak on the road (0-19-4) before they beat UMass Lowell 6-2 at the Tsongas Center on Nov. 4, 2017.
Following this weekend’s series at UMass, UMaine will host New Hampshire for a pair on Feb. 18-19, travel to Providence for two on Feb. 25-26 and host Boston University on March 4-5.
UMaine is now 2-10-2 in Hockey East, while No. 9 UMass, the defending NCAA champ, is 15-8-2 and 10-4-2.