March 12, 2013

UMaine takes next step

The Black Bears rallied late in the season, going 9-6-6 since Christmas, to reach the Hockey East tourney.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Carey Thrush, Martin Oullette
click image to enlarge

Martin Ouellette, who started 28 of 36 games in goal for UMaine, recognized the Black Bears were a good team early in the season despite their struggles. “I just knew we had the potential to do something this year,” he said.

The Associated Press

HOCKEY EAST QUARTERFINALS

Best of three

WHO: No. 8 Maine (11-17-8, 7-12-8 Hockey East) at No. 1 UMASS-Lowell (22-10-2, 16-9-2)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and, if necessary, TBA Sunday

WHERE: Tsongas Arena, Lowell, Mass.

RADIO: WLOB-AM (1310)

The single-game semifinals and finals are scheduled for March 22-23 at TD Garden in Boston. Maine has reached the Hockey East championship game in two of the past three seasons. Boston College is the three-time defending champion.

No team seeded lower than fourth has won the tournament. Maine (2000), BC (2008) and Providence (1996) won it as a fourth seed.

There have been three instances of a No. 8 team knocking off No. 1 in the quarterfinals. Merrimack upset Boston University in 1998, BU upset BC in 2004 and Vermont upset New Hampshire in 2010.

All three Cinderella teams lost in the semifinals, however.

Then again, if Cornell and the other Black Bears have learned anything this season, they will look not to the past, but to the future.

"We love coaching this group," said Coach Tim Whitehead, who has missed the Hockey East playoffs only once in his 12 years at Maine. "It's such a great group of young men. They've stuck together. The seniors have been fabulous, and they've really fought through a lot."

Last season, there were only five instances of a player missing a game because of an injury. This season, that number climbed to 102, and the Black Bears remain without Connor Leen and Nick Pryor.

So they've learned something about resiliency. Other lessons, according to Cornell:

"How to lead a team. How to stay motivated not only as an individual but as a team, when things aren't going well. The power of hard work. The power of believing in each other and in our team systems."

He glanced outside to the waiting motor coach.

"You know, hockey's a crazy game," he said. "You can never give up."

NOTES: The University of Maine athletic ticket office has a limited number of tickets for the Maine fan section, available only through 4 p.m. Tuesday. Call 581-BEAR or 800-765-TEAM for more information.

The university is also organizing a bus from Orono for the Thursday and Friday games. Cost is $85 per person, which includes tickets to both games. Discount hotel rooms are available and the bus may stop in the Portland area to pick up any interested fans.

Call 581-4849 or email GoBlackBears@yahoo.com for more information.

Friends of Maine Hockey and The Black Bears of Boston invite Maine fans to join them in a pregame party both nights at the Lowell Beer Works at 203 Cabot St. beginning at 5 p.m.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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