ORONO — The University of Maine hockey team’s season-long conversation about consistency and confidence may finally be producing dividends, just in time for the postseason.

Bolstered by a breakout night from the team’s second line in the regular-season finale, the Black Bears head to Northeastern University for a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series beginning Friday night at Matthews Arena. The trio of Tim Doherty, Brendan Robbins and Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup piled up three goals and three assists in a win over Boston University last Saturday night after accounting for just six points in their eight previous games combined.

If playoff hockey has proven anything over the years, it’s that a team needs more than a powerhouse top line to survive and advance.

“There’s a reason every team at every level needs four lines,” said Robbins, who scored two goals against the Terriers to give him seven goals in his last 13 games after scoring only twice in over the course of his first 21 games. “It’s because one line doesn’t get the job done. You’ve got to have guys rolling at all times. I think right now at the end of the season, we all kind of figured out our roles and what we needed to do. Everybody’s embracing them really well, and it’s really important we get the most out of everybody.”

The No. 6 seed in Hockey East, Maine (15-15-4 overall) enters the weekend against the third-seeded Huskies unbeaten in six of its last seven games, going 5-1-1 over a stretch dating back to a 3-1 win over Providence on Feb. 9.

Schmidt-Svejstrup’s arrival on Doherty’s line — after opening the season on the top line with Chase Pearson and Mitch Fossier — added an element the group was missing.


“He definitely adds something to our line,” the senior center Doherty said of Schmidt-Svejstrup. “He can shoot the puck like no one else. I think it was a little tough for him at the beginning with college hockey, but I think he’s definitely up to speed now and starting to go. It’s a good time for that.”

Doherty is fifth on the team with 9-8-17 totals, while Robbins has posted 9-5-14 and Schmidt Svejstrup 5-8-13 totals. Each has endured stretches of futility, with Robbins going the first 12 games of the season without recording a point and Schmidt-Svejstrup enduring an eight-game scoreless stretch prior to his two-assist night against BU last Saturday.

University of Maine teammates Brendan Robbins, left, and Tim Doherty celebrate a goal last Saturday night against Boston University at Alfond Arena in Orono. University of Maine photo/Mark Tutuny

“We’ve been a little inconsistent this year, but lately we’re really finding our game. It’s exciting,” Doherty said. “We’ve got a really good combination. Brendan’s so fast and Jacob can shoot the puck, and I’ve just got to use my hockey sense to get those guys the puck. It helps that off the ice we’re all best friends, so that off-ice chemistry definitely pays off.”

Maine head coach Red Gendron, who has not advanced past the Hockey East quarterfinals since taking over the Black Bears prior to the 2013-14 season, noted strong second halves from a number of players expected in the lineup he rolls out against Northeastern.

While Pearson, Fossier and Eduards Tralmaks have been the model of consistency this season, accounting for nearly 35 percent of the team’s scoring totals and almost 40 percent of its goals, the Black Bears need the threat of more than a single line to try and slow the second-highest scoring offense in Hockey East backed by a netminder in Cayden Primeau boasting the league’s top save percentage.

“I think it’s confidence of the players,” Gendron said of his team’s stronger second half. “The hardest part is that people in general, when they’re not having success, they look for some sort of magic elixir. But it’s really only two things that get you out of (slumps) — the process of preparing and focusing on the the things that matter and working to execute those things on a daily basis. That’s how you get yourself out. It’s a pretty common trap.”


But Doherty’s line could provide the magic, or at least the difference between a trip to the Boston Garden for Hockey East’s championship weekend or another early postseason exit.

“We knew the skill and the talent and the camaraderie we have in the room, so it was going to happen at some point,” Doherty said. “It took a little longer than it should have, but now we’re there and this is the perfect time to be playing our best hockey.”

And the Black Bears are looking forward to the rematch with ninth-ranked Northeastern (23-10-1).

The Huskies swept a two-game weekend series at Maine Jan. 11-12, outscoring the Black Bears 7-2 over the course of the set.

Maine has gone 8-4-2 since, including wins over No. 3 UMass and No. 7 Providence and a weekend sweep of Boston College.

“I would say that was our lowest point of the season,” Doherty said. “We’re a complete 180 of a team since then, so I couldn’t be more excited. I know the guys are excited, too. We’re looking forward to it.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621


Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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