Jakub Sirota, a senior defenseman on the University of Maine men's hockey team, plays in a November 2021 game against Merrimack College in Orono. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

In its last game, the University of Maine’s hockey team scored three goals in a 5-3 loss at Merrimack. It was the first game in seven in which it scored more than two goals.

That was on Nov. 12. A lack of goal production, which has to do with having one of the nation’s worst power plays, has been the primary issue for the rebuilding Black Bears as they return to action with a 2 p.m. game on Saturday in Orono against defending three-time Atlantic Hockey League champion American International College of Springfield, Mass.

UMaine is 2-8-1 overall and will be looking to snap a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) in which it has scored only 12 goals and gone 2-for-25 on the power play. Eric Lang’s Yellow Jackets are 7-6-3 overall and are 2-0-1 in their last three contests.

“We have to find a way to score, we all know that,” said UMaine second-year head coach Ben Barr. “It’s not OK to just get chances or just get around the net and then get pushed off the net.”

Excluding two empty-net goals, UMaine has lost its last five games by a total of six goals. The team’s co-leading scorer said he saw good signs in the three “greasy” goals from the last game.

“If we can get three great goals and a couple of nice ones for four or five goals a game, that should be enough to win,” senior left wing Ben Poisson said.

UMaine is currently averaging 2 goals per game, which ties it for 51st among the nation’s 60 Division I teams. The power play is producing at an 8.1 percent success rate and is 0-for-14 in its last five games. Only five teams have a worse power play success rate.

“We enter the zone pretty well. We do a lot of things right but then we can’t score,” Barr said. “We’re trying some new people and trying to find a few more options.”

Practice time in the last two weeks have been marked by work on the power play, defenseman and captain Jakub Sirota said. One issue has been that team members can wind up being tentative because they have so many options and are trying to decide which play is the best.

“Sometimes you should just make one pass and shoot,” he said.

Junior center Lynden Breen (4 goals, 3 assists) and Poisson (1 and 6) are UMaine’s leading scorers. Breen and freshman winger Felix Trudeau each have two goals and an assist in their last three games.

Jordan Biro (6 and 12), Blake Bennett (10 and 7) and defenseman Matt Rickard (1 and 11) have paced AIC, which is 0-6 vs. UMaine all time.