ORONO — It’s been nearly three weeks since the University of Maine men’s hockey team last played on home ice, and there’s still another three weeks to go until the Black Bears get back to Alfond Arena.

For now, at least, the team is putting a positive spin on spending so much time on the road. Maine (8-5-3) heads to Hockey East foe and 11th-ranked UMass this weekend for a pair of games, the fifth and sixth games of what is essentially a seven-game road trip. The trip doesn’t conclude until Tuesday night at Yale University – the final game before Maine’s semester break.

Unbeaten at Alfond this season (5-0-1), Maine is 3-5-2 away from home. Through the first four games of the current run, the Black Bears are 1-2-1, and they don’t play at home again until a Dec. 29 date with American International College – 43 days since they beat rival New Hampshire in overtime on Nov. 16.

“We 100 percent embrace the road warrior mentality,” Maine junior goalie Jeremy Swayman said. “It’s us against however many people are there – 3,000, 5,000 people sometimes – and it’s a pretty special feeling battling with your brothers and having only each other to lean on.

“It’s a good feeling, and it’s even sweeter when you win.”

Unlike the professional game, where teams spend weeks on the road at a time, college hockey teams typically travel to their destination, play twice in two days and return home for a few days of practice before repeating the process.

Even though it’s not plane trips and hotels for days on end, Maine Coach Red Gendron does believe this quirk in the first-half schedule will pay future dividends. Maine will play eight of its final nine games at home, all of them Hockey East games.

“It’s a lot nicer to be home at the end of the season when fatigue starts to set in and it becomes (more) stressful having to get on the bus, maybe get home Sunday morning at 4 a.m. from a trip,” Gendron said. “Now, (if you’re playing at home) your team’s an awful lot more rested (at the end of the year).”

With a 4-4-2 league mark, Maine is in a three-way tie for fourth place with Boston College and Boston University. Boston College has three games in hand on the Black Bears and Terriers.

Already, Maine has seen some oddball situations over the last three weeks.

Following a sweep at the hands of Northeastern, the same team that beat Maine in the Hockey East quarterfinals last season, the Black Bears went to Canton, New York, for a two-game set against St. Lawrence. The Saints were hoping to have their renovated arena open in time for the Maine series, but instead were still playing home games in SUNY-Canton’s small facility. Before the games, the team celebrated Thanksgiving with a dinner spread inside their hotel.

The UMass rink, with its Olympic-sized ice sheet, is up next. The Minutemen played in the national championship game last spring and boast another quick, skilled team intent on challenging for the Hockey East title.

“There’s no margin for mistakes,” junior winger Eduards Tralmaks said. “One pass can get through five or six guys. You have to be ready to play strategically, tactically right. There’s more skating (on bigger ice), obviously, but it’s less mistakes. I think we’ve done a good job on the bigger ice sheet as a team. We have the conditioning and strength to skate every shift out.

“The game changes, but it doesn’t really matter for us. We’ll still play our game. We’ll just have to be a little smarter.”

Gendron hammered home the same point Wednesday afternoon. Whether it’s a Hockey East game on the final night of the regular season or a nonconference set on a holiday weekend in November, he wants the Black Bears to approach things the same way.

“There are certain differences in those situations, to be sure, but at the end of the day, it’s a hockey game,” Gendron said. “There’s going to be sticks and pucks and opponents and referees and glass and boards and everything else. But go play the game. If you start thinking it’s harder to win on the road or it’s easier to win games at home, either one of those ideas is not helpful.”

Comments are not available on this story.