ORONO – Whenever the New Hampshire Wildcats come to Orono, the mantra is usually the same: Beat UNH.
But that’s not necessarily the case for Maine women’s hockey. Instead, it’s to get back on the right track.
“I think that we just kind of need to stick to our game plan more and just trust what we have set up for us and execute it well,” defenseman Alyson Matteau said Thursday ahead of the team’s two-game series with the Wildcats at Alfond Arena.
Maine plays host to its conference foe in desperate need of a win. After an eye-opening first half, and even cracking a top 8 spot in the country, the Black Bears have lost three in a row. A series-closing loss combined with a difficult sweep at the hands of Hockey East cellar-dweller UConn has Maine in third place in the Hockey East standings. While that’s a strong spot to sit in, the Black Bears now lead UNH and Northeastern by two points. Should Maine get swept by the Wildcats, it could mean they fall out of the top 5 in the conference.
“I think it’s time just to bounce back to our normal game that we have been playing all year,” senior forward Brooke Stacey said. “We had some setbacks, but I think we can overcome them.”
Both players attributed the UConn losses to not sticking to their game plan and playing individual-based hockey.
“I think it might have been because they were the ninth-ranked team, and we were getting in our heads a little bit that, ‘oh, we’re so much better than them,'” Stacey said. “I think that played into it.”
So how can they avoid that?
“I think just being in the moment I guess, not focusing too much on who we’re playing no matter if they’re ranked top 5, or bottom 4,” she said.
The atmosphere will be typical for a UNH/Maine matchup this weekend, but the reality is, major playoff positioning could be on the line. And while the Wildcats will be chasing the Black Bears, Maine knows it can’t stop chasing its own goal either.
“It’s the same thing for us,” Matteau said. “We’re looking up and we’re not at the top yet. We want to do whatever we can to keep on securing our position and moving up as we can.”