ORONO – Hockey East was the land of struggles for the University of Maine women’s hockey team last season, but this past weekend was a microcosm of how far the Black Bears have come.
“We were 6-12 at this point last year. Now, we’re 12-6,” head coach Richard Reichenbach said Wednesday.
And they have 12 wins in part to their successful Hockey East slate against Vermont this past week, which saw the Black Bears go 2-0-1. Now, they enter the holiday break ranked No. 11 in both the PairWise rankings and the USCHO.com national poll, an unfamiliar sight they are embracing as indication of their hard work.
“I think for our program, it’s extremely in focus. Because it’s like if you’re in the weight room, you’re watching their weight go up,” Reichenbach said. “It’s if you’re on the ice, and you’ve worked hard, you’ve increased your speed, or you’ve increased your shot.
While many would shy away from standing watching, Maine for the most part is enjoying tracking its progress.
“The ranking obviously shows our success, and seeing our number be so high, I mean so low, compared to last year’s high, I think for me, being here for three years, it’s exciting to see where the program’s gone,” junior forward Cailey Hutchison said.
The team will likely sit in the same position as it opens up the second half of the season after break, and as Reichenbach understands the hunt is not done just yet.
“We just try and use it as motivation and want to be the best and want to continue to grow and develop and we have to do that every week.”