ORONO – At No. 9 in the country, riding a nine-game unbeaten streak just past the halfway point of the season, it’s easy to forget that Maine women’s hockey was picked to finish last in Hockey East.
“No one thought we would get to this point but now we’re here and it’s just like we’re not satisfied with where we’re at right now we’re thinking alright we want to be top six, top five, top three,” defenseman Brittany Kucera said.
The change has been remarkable. For the most part it’s the same cast that only won 10 games last season and struggled in most facets. Now the Black Bears are a well-rounded squad, firing on all cylinders.
“We have such a well-rounded team it’s not just ok we have an outstanding goalie we have an outstanding D we have an outstanding offense we have all three so it’s just been incredible,” goaltender Jillian Flynn said.
This season Maine women’s goaltender Carly Jackson has taken a leap into the elite Hockey East goaltending pool, something her teammates believe was only a matter of time.
“Carly and I sit beside each other in the locker room and I think it’s interesting to see that her whole mentality has kinda changed this year I think she’s noticing that she can be confident in herself and that she should be,” Kucera said.
Jackson is tops in Hockey East with a 1.78 goals against average this season, a stark contrast to her 2.84 mark last season. Flynn attributes the change to Jackson’s adjustment in the crease.
“She really last year was really skilled but was making these crazy saves that like she knew she didn’t have to make if she was going to be in the right position so this year you could tell she looks like a much more mature goalie,” Flynn said.
With Jackson as the anchor in net, the Black Bears believe they have a chance to do something many thought to be improbable this year.
“We can see ourselves winning Hockey East or getting a bid we can see ourselves going to the tournament and going far. It’s really exciting that we can say that and have that confidence without sounding crazy. Like you can always say that but now people are believing that too and it’s a real possibility,” Flynn said.