After a week off between games, the University of Maine women’s hockey team is ready to get back in action with a weekend series against the University of Vermont.
With a record of 13-8-6 (7-6-2 Hockey East), they sit in fifth place with 16 points, trailing third place Boston University by only 2 points. The last three series of the year for the Black Bears are going to be important, and it all starts this weekend against UVM.
The seventh-place Catamounts will be coming into the Alfond Arena banged up with several key players missing; they still have star freshman forward Amanda Pelkey available for the game, but she will most likely be playing as a defender. Even with all the injuries, head coach Maria Lewis says UVM will be a challenge and should not be overlooked.
“They have injuries and are hurting — their top player is out — but Pelkey will be moved from forward to defense to help get them through the injuries,” Lewis said. “She is a top freshman, played on the U-18 team, and will add skill and mobility.
“They are coming off a big win against [the University of New Hampshire], they are hungry to play hard, they have momentum, they have done well against us at home. After beating them 5-2 in Vermont, they will be looking to do well here.”
To ensure success against the Catamounts, Lewis said the Black Bears have made some adjustments of their own for the upcoming series.
“We are tinkering with the fore-check, we’re going to use a few different looks against UVM, adjust the breakout a little bit, and use the same lines we used against [Boston University] to keep chemistry going,” Lewis said.
UMaine junior goaltender Brittany Ott, coming off a 51-save weekend in games against the University of Connecticut and Providence College that earned her Hockey East Co-Defender of the Week honors, will have another challenge to face with the UVM offensive attack that features quick forwards that take advantage of opportunities.
“They have good speed, very opportunistic, they crash the net, back-check well, so we are going to have to do a good job of clearing out the net as well as matching or exceeding their speed,” Lewis said.
With the end of the season coming in the next four weeks the Black Bears are looking to close the season strong, but they know they have a little ways to go before the playoffs. They still hold their futures in their own hands, and they would like to keep it that way.
“We don’t want to look too far ahead in the future, but we know the season is closing out, and we can see our goals ahead of us,” Lewis said. “At this point, our goals are still in our hands, and we want to play solid so we don’t put our goals in someone else’s hands.”
UMaine and UVM will square off in a two-game series at the Alfond Arena on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m and Feb 5at 3 p.m.