Maine Hockey Journal

With North Dakota coming to town, all eyes are on Maine’s Alfond Arena

A major test is on the horizon for the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team as they take on out-of-conference foes the University of North Dakota Fight Sioux, who are presently ranked No. 2 in the nation.

With the Black Bears failing to win a game in East Lansing against Michigan State, they’ve been working on their skills to prove to themselves, and anyone who doubts, that Maine is fully capable of taking on a top ranked team from the WCHA.

With North Dakota coming to Orono, it’s a perfect chance for Maine to brighten the spotlight on the whole Hockey East Conference by beating one of the better teams in the WCHA.

“A lot of people out there think that the WCHA is a better league and I think a lot people here think the Hockey East is better league,” said Minnesota native Robby Dee. “Overall, they’re both pretty comparable. They both have great teams from top to bottom and they’re both always competing for the NCAA tournament.”

With the WCHA and Hockey East usually dominating the headlines in the college hockey world, it’s hard to not to ask which team is better when these storied conferences throw two of their best teams on the ice together.

“Being so close to the East Coast, you always see the Hockey East teams playing in the Frozen Four so that was something I always thought was cool,” said Maine Sophomore forward Joey Diamond.

North Dakota began their season with the Kendell Classic Tournament in Alaska where they finished with a record of 1-0-1 against Alaska-Fairbanks and Alaska-Anchorage. From there, they put on a stellar show with a weekend sweep of Bemidji State, both games by a 5-2 score.

North Dakota has two capable goalies with both most likely see ice time against Maine this weekend.

Junior Brad Eidsness is 1-0-1 with a 3.36 GAA and a .811 save percentage thus far this season. Eidsness future could potentially land himself in Portland, ME next season as a member of the Portland Pirates, the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate. Eidsness was drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Sabres.

Meanwhile, Sophomore Aaron Dell has been even more impressive, going 2-0-0 with a 1.50GAA and .919 save percentage.

Although no one from the Maine has ever seen North Dakota on the ice. They know it will be a challenge for them to come away with two victories, but are looking forward to what lays ahead.

“It would be nice to get a couple wins over a top ranked team,” said Dee. “We’re just going to go out there and give it our best shot… and play our best game if we want to win.”

With Maine being on the smaller in size, they have been practicing hard on being extra physical.

“One of our keys is to finish the checks, getting in on the forecheck and being a tough team to play against,” said Maine captain Tanner House.

“Being physical is one thing, but being penalized is another,” House continued. “We have to find that line between playing a physical game and getting penalties, and were still working on that, but we still want to be physical.”

Diamond, one of Maine’s more physical and dynamic players, has approached being a physical player since he was a youngster growing up in Long Beach, N.Y.

“I’ve always played my game being tough. I’m a smaller guy and being that you need to play bigger than you really are” said Diamond, “I’m 5-6. I can’t play like I’m 5-6. I have to play like I’m 6-2 so that’s what I try to do.”

After UND comes to town, the task doesn’t get any easier for Maine with Boston College, Boston University, Miami of Ohio, and Cornell on the horizon.

NOTES: North Dakota, who has been playing collegiate hockey since 1929, will be changing their team name next season due to a decision by the ND Board of Education. The Fighting Sioux have racked up seven National Championships and have an all-time record of 1300-876-117. In the past 80 years, North Dakota has met Maine 18 times with a winning record of 11-6-1.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply