There have been several components to the University of Maine hockey team’s four-game winning streak and one of the most important ones has been the play of junior goalie Victor Ostman.
Ostman allowed just three goals in those victories and has stopped 73 of 76 shots for a sparkling save percentage of .961. That has lowered goals-against average to 1.94, which is eighth best among goalies at the 60 Division I schools. His .922 save percentage is 18th.
UMaine is allowing 2.4 goals per game, tying it with Minnesota State for 12th lowest in the country. Ostman gave credit to his teammates for his recent success, saying the Black Bears have been playing better team defense and allowing fewer quality shots.
“That has made it a lot easier on me,” Ostman said. “It’s nice.”
The Black Bears have surrendered an average of 25.5 shots-on-goal per game — nearly eight fewer than the average they have allowed over the previous 10 seasons. Defense has been the major improvement for UMaine in coach Ben Barr’s second season. His 6-8-1 team is already one win shy of its total from last season.
Ostman has benefited from playing regularly, starting the last eight games after a stint as a part-time player last season and finding it easier to stay consistent in his role.
Barr said one of the primary reasons behind Ostman’s emergence as the No. 1 goalie at this time can be attributed to his work ethic. Last season, he said Ostman would have been satisfied making the initial save and wasn’t that concerned if he didn’t stop a rebound attempt.
“Now, even if he doesn’t make the second save, he is making the effort to get there and trying to make it and that’s showing in games,” Barr said.
Barr also gave Alfie Michaud, the goalie coach, and back-up goalies Jacob Mucitelli and Connor Androlewicz credit for pushing Ostman, who has worked harder in practice on different drills in which two or three players break in alone on him.
“He follows the puck well and is playing big in front of the net,” said UMaine sophomore defenseman David Breazeale. “We have all the confidence in the world in him. We always have.”
Ostman, Breazeale and the rest of their Black Bear teammates have returned to practice this week as they prepare for a weekend series at Colgate University against the 8-9-1 Raiders from the ECAC Hockey League.
The teams will play at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Class of 1965 Arena in Hamilton, N.Y. Sophomore center Cole Hanson, who played as a freshman at Colgate last season before transferring to UMaine, said he has had these dates “circled on my calendar” since the schedule was released.
“I’m looking forward to it, big time,” Hanson said. “I’m excited to see my old teammates, but I definitely want to bring home some wins.”