The University of Maine’s hockey team can clinch a home ice berth for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs with two regulation wins over Boston College this weekend.
UMaine, in eighth place with 26 points, is one point behind seventh-place Boston College. Both have four games left, including their 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday matchups at the Alfond Arena in Orono.
The top five teams receive a first-round bye in the playoffs while the teams that finish sixth, seventh and eighth will host the teams seeded 11th, 10th and ninth, respectively, for a game.
UNH has 23 points in ninth but has only two games left; UMass is 10th with 19 points and has four left including two at UMaine in two weekends; and Vermont is last with 15 points and has four remaining.
According to playoffstatus.com, UMaine has an 80 percent chance of finishing in the top eight.
“I honestly haven’t given any thought to our positioning. If you start thinking about that, it takes away from what you are trying to do day to day,” said UMaine head coach Ben Barr. “BC is a really, really good team. We stole one on the road down there a couple of weeks ago that we probably didn’t deserve to win.”
Even though his team is unbeaten in its last five games at 2-0-3 and 11-5-3 over its last 19 games, he says his team is not at the point where it’s a favorite.
“We don’t have a team that can have that kind of mentality right now,” Barr said. “Nor should we ever, to be honest. BC isn’t going to come up here thinking ‘I don’t think we can beat that Maine team. Nor will UMass.
Barr said BC, led by first-year coach Greg Brown, is as talented as anybody in the league, so his team is going to have to manage the puck well and make productive plays with it.
“If they have the puck a lot, they will make you look silly,” he said.
He said the teams have differing styles.
“They are speed, puck possession and skill, and we’re hard-nosed, and we compete and hopefully play the game the right way,” said Barr.
UMaine, behind goalie Victor Ostman, has allowed only 13 goals over its past eight games.
UMaine is 13-13-5 overall and 7-9-4 in Hockey East while BC is 12-12-6 and 7-8-5 and has won three straight.
Lynden Breen (16 goals, 10 assists), Ben Poisson (8 & 16) and Nolan Renwick (7 & 10) are UMaine’s top scorers. BC is led by Cutter Gauthier (14 & 14), Nikita Nesterenko (10 & 17) and Trevor Kuntat (13 & 12).