Orono, Maine -- University of Maine's Lynden Breen (#27) vs UMass Lowell at Alfond Arena on January 13, 2023 file photos of various players. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The University of Maine men’s hockey team’s power play has finally come to life after being virtually dormant for the first 22 games of the season.

The power play has converted on 5 of its 11 chances over the past three games against nationally ranked teams.

It is the Black Bears’ best three-game stretch of the season, and they have scored two power play goals in two of the last three games after having just one game with two power play goals over the first 22 contests.

As the Black Bears prepare for the stretch run with 10 games left in the regular season — including home games against No. 3 Boston University (19-6) and No. 15 Merrimack (16-10-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. — having an effective power play will be key in their quest to climb the Hockey East standings.

UMaine is 11-12-2 overall, 5-8-1 in Hockey East.

The Black Bears will also be reliant on their penalty-killing units, which did not allow a goal in the sweep of Providence College over the weekend, 3-2 and 3-0. Providence had nine power plays, including a five-minute major.

UMaine is now operating at 16 percent efficiency on the power play, 46th among the 60 Division I schools. Merrimack’s penalty kill is only 30th (80 percent) and BU’s is 40th (78.4 percent).

BU has the best power play among the three teams at 22 percent (tied for 21st) while Merrimack has the worst at 14 percent (54th).

UMaine’s penalty killing percentage is at 81.6 percent, 24th in the country.

Junior center and assistant captain Lynden Breen, who had two goals and an assist on the power play last weekend, said one of the ingredients to the recent power play success is sticking with the plan.

“We’ve figured things out. We’re just getting pucks to the net and making things more simple,” Breen said. “We’re getting over the hump. We haven’t let the first two-thirds of the season get into our heads.”

What’s more, he added, the team is in the thick of the most important part of the season

“We still have a chance to do great things this year. We have 10 games left and, in Hockey East, special teams is what makes or breaks you. We proved it last weekend,” Breen said.

Jakub Sirota, a defenseman and captain who had a pair of power play assists against Providence, said the team’s confidence has grown throughout the season.

“We have started to play with two defensemen up top on the power play and we are also tandems who are together (in even-strength situations), so we know each other and that has helped us,” he said.

Sirota plays with freshman Grayson Arnott and sophomore David Breazeale is with freshman Luke Antonacci on the other pairing.

Freshman defenseman Brandon Holt had been a regular on the power play but he will be out indefinitely after suffering a broken finger while blocking a shot in Friday night’s game.

“He has been one of our most consistent players all year. It’s definitely a loss,” UMaine head coach Ben Barr said. “But it’s a good opportunity for some of the other guys to pick up minutes, whether it is Sammy (Duerr), Dawson (Bruneski) or Bob Kincaid, although he hasn’t played much.”

Holt has four goals and seven assists to tie Sirota for most points among UMaine defensemen.

UMaine assistant coach Jason Fortier, who is responsible for the power play, said the players are feeling “more comfortable” with the man-advantage and with what the coaches are asking them to do.

“We use the same guys over and over instead of trying out a bunch of different guys. We’re focusing our energy on retrieving pucks, which is a big emphasis for us, and on getting pucks through to the net through shooting. Once that opens up, we’ve found other avenues,” Fortier said.

Barr said that good power plays and penalty kills give the team momentum.

“Even if we don’t score on a power play, when our power play has poise with the puck and generates some scoring chances, it gives us momentum. Same with the penalty kill,” Barr said.

UMaine has had a respectable penalty kill, although both BU and Merrimack had a game against UMaine this season when they went 3-for-3 on the power play.

“We chased the puck into the wrong places, we got out of position and they capitalized,” said Sirota. “We have to keep our structure.”

Both teams swept the Black Bears in their rinks: BU 5-1 and 9-6 two weekends ago and Merrimack 1-0 and 5-3 in November.

“We’d all love to get some revenge,” said UMaine junior goalie Victor Ostman, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week. “We want to show them what we’re capable of. It will be really cool to play them here.”

UMaine has won seven of its last eight home games.