Maine’s preseason spot in Hockey East not a surprise

Martin Ouellette makes a stop during a home game last season. (Photo: Bangor Daily News)

Can you really blame the Hockey East coaches from picking one of its hallmark teams to finish eighth this season?The Black Bears will have their two goalies back this season yet again, but neither Dan Sullivan or Martin Ouellette flourished under the tutelage of Tim Whitehead (mind you, just two goalies did in his time in Orono.)

Ouellette, who received the bulk of the playing time in his junior season, sported a 2.42 goals against average. Giving up more than two goals a game might not be terrible, but to show a recent example of how volatile a few tenths-of-a-goal are, take a look at Ben Bishop. In the 06-07 season, Bishop had a 2.14 and Maine went to the Frozen Four. The next season Bishop had a 2.41 and Maine missed out on the postseason.

When Dan Sullivan received a majority of time between the pipes — two seasons ago — he had a 2.53.

Last year’s team didn’t score, in fact only two teams in D-1 hockey had fewer goals, but will this year prove any different?

It’s a fact that Maine returns four of its top five scorers (only losing Joey Diamond to graduation), but those four scorers combined for 23 goals and 69 points in 38 games.

Hockey East has become a more defensive, SEC-like conference in recent years, and notable for strong goaltending for decades in comparison to the WCHA and CCHA. That means two things for Maine: They need disciplined defense from its young blue line roster, and they need Devin Shore to have a Paul Kariya-like season that puts him in Hobey Baker discussions.

If not, this team likely will prove the Hockey East coaches right.

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