Maine Hockey Opens Season Tonight at No. 17 Nebraska-Omaha
It was an inauspicious first time on the ice for the University of Maine men's hockey team last Saturday against Quinnipiac as the Black Bears fell 7-0 in an exhibition defeat to the #9 team in the country.
First-year head coach Ben Barr described the closed-door scrimmage as a good way for his team to see what they're trying to build towards and how sizeable the gap may be.
The 39-year-old Barr inherited this edition of the Black Bears when he took the job last spring following the shocking passing of former head coach Red Gendron. Barr's year-one roster remains largely constructed by the previous regime.
Now, as Barr described in his regular appearance on The Drive earlier this week, it's up to him and assistants Alfie Michaud and Jason Fortier to change the culture in Orono and restore the Black Bears as a yearly threat in Hockey East.
Coming off a 3-win season a year ago where the team was limited to just 16 games on the ice due to multiple COVID-19 related pauses, Barr and Co. will have their work cut out for them as Maine opens the season vs. #17 the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
The Mavericks were a 14-win team a season ago and opened their 2021-22 campaign last weekend, earning a split with Lake Superior State (4-3 OT loss, 3-0 win).
The Mavericks could also serve as a blueprint for what Barr is trying to accomplish in Orono. In the last three years, Omaha has gone from 9-24-3 to 14-17-5 to 14-11-1 and was an NCAA Tournament team a year ago.
While Barr says he's not placing any expectations on this year, or concerned about season-long goals, his main focus is instilling a winning formula with the Black Bears, and is confident the wins will follow.
You can listen to our entire conversation with Barr from earlier this week. As a reminder, the head coach joins The Drive every Tuesday during the hockey season.