Preseason Top 16: #10 Maine


It’s that time of year again. Each day (or so) for the next couple weeks TCHB will be unveiling its preseason top 16 teams in the country. 16 of course because 16 teams make up the NCAA tournament field. Today’s team is the #10 Maine Black Bears

Despite missing out on NCAA tournament action for two years in a row, and losing their best player to the NHL, I forsee big things from this year’s Black Bears. Maine welcomes back a talented group of guys and their recruiting class, while not specacular, should be solid as usual.

Forwards: Obviously Gustav Nyquist is a big loss, maybe the biggest in the country. Though his scoring fell to “just” 18 goals and 51 points, it likely was due to the increased attention given to him by opponents (though he seemed to be a bit more bothered by physical play last year than the year before, so who knows). But even though they lost Nyquist, Robby Dee (13 goals) and Tanner House (10) they welcome back Brian Flynn (20 goals) and Spencer Abbott (17). Though he only had 6 goals last year, I have heard good things about Kyle Beattie, so look for him to get up into maybe the 15 range this year. Maine scored 3.41 goals per game in Hockey East play (2nd) last year, and did so while being (probably) a bit unlucky on the power play, converting at 17.6%.

Defensemen: Maine loses two very good offensive defensemen in Jeff Dimmen and Josh van Dyk, but still have Will O’Neill, who was 11th in defenseman scoring with 13 points in conference play. Plus their remaining guys can now probably focus a bit more on keeping the puck out of their own net rather than trying to score, as Maine was 6th in Hockey East, allowing 2.7 goals per contest. Though if they do want some offense from the back, recruit Jacob Rutt, who had 10 goals and 30 points in the EJHL last year, would probably be happy to oblige.

Goaltenders: Maine’s big weakness last year, as three goalies all saw ice time, and their save percentages were not pretty: .894, .890, .862. By ranking Maine 10th I am basically betting that at least one goalie was the victim of horrible luck, or that one will improve at least to the .910 range and give Maine something in net. Ryan Rondeau went from a .880 save percentage to a .928 at Yale, so it is possible.

If the goaltending is at least adequate, Maine has the talent up front to outscore teams and get back into the NCAA tournament.