Don’t worry, University of Maine hockey fans — they don’t use shootouts in Hockey East or NCAA Tournament playoff games.
It’s five-on-five in overtime until somebody scores the game-winner.
UMaine’s streak of shootout losses was extended to four games after dropping a pair of shootouts at the University of New Hampshire over the weekend, being outscored 1-0 in each.
Since winning its first shootout game over Northeastern University in late October, UMaine has converted just once in its four shootout losses.
In a shootout, each team has three shooters go in alone on the opposing goalie, and the team that converts more of its chances comes out with an extra point in the Hockey East standings.
The game is still considered a tie for NCAA purposes, but the shootout winner earns two points and the shootout loser earns one. The team that wins in regulation earns three points. The loser doesn’t get any.
But the bottom line on the weekend is that UMaine played well enough to win both games and came away with two valuable ties in a hostile, sold-out environment at the Whittemore Center in Durham, New Hampshire.
UMaine has now gone unbeaten in its last four Hockey East road games (1-0-3). The last time that occurred was during the 2014-15 season when it went 3-0-1.
The Whittemore Center and the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena are the two most intimidating rinks in Hockey East for opposing teams due to the passion of the fan base and size of the crowds.
UNH entered the series with a four-game winning streak and needed to make up a lot of ground to try and move past UMaine into the eighth and final home ice spot for the Hockey East playoffs.
Two regulation wins over its arch-rivals would have enabled the Wildcats to leapfrog the Black Bears.
But the Black Bears earned the two ties that — even though they had two points shaved off their lead as a result of the shootout losses — kept them in a good position to secure a top eight spot.
UMaine is currently in eighth place with 26 points. It trails seventh-place Boston College by just one point ,and BC is coming to Orono for a weekend series on Friday and Saturday nights.
Providence is in sixth place with 32 points.
Trailing UMaine is UNH with 23 points, UMass with 19 and Vermont with 15.
After hosting BC, UMaine will entertain UMass for a pair to end the regular season.
UNH has only two games left, one at fifth-place UConn and one at home against Vermont. BC finishes up with a home-and-home against UConn. Providence has just two games left, a home-and-home with second-place Boston University.
UMaine’s shootout losses shouldn’t be alarming.
UMaine has only two players who have scored 10 or more goals in a college season: junior Lynden Breen has scored 16 this season and linemate Donavan Houle had 10 last season.
Scoring help is on the way in the incoming freshman class, and the current players should be more prolific, offensively, next season, too.
Even though goals have been hard to come by, with the Black Bears only 45th in scoring among 65 Division I schools with an average of 2.48 goals per game, they have compensated by holding opponents to just 13 goals over their last eight games while going 4-1-3 in those eight.
They are 17th in team defense, allowing 2.48 goals per game.
Their confidence is growing. They are expecting to win games instead of hoping to win them.
Junior goalie Victor Ostman now has the seventh-lowest goals-against average among goalies at 62 Division I schools (2.05) and the ninth-best save percentage (.924).
But there is still plenty of work to do in their final four regular season games.
Boston College has won three in a row, and UMass will be a test despite its struggles this season.
The Black Bears control their own destiny and should have large, enthusiastic crowds at the Alfond Arena urging them on.
It is up to them to get the job done and get ready for the playoffs.