Analysis from the Opponent

John Forsyth (@blackbear93), a Maine alumni and Black Bear hockey guru, was kind enough to chat with me about tonight's game against the Bulldogs and an overview of Maine's performance this year.  Here's what he had to say:

From a broad point of view, Maine looks to be struggling this year.  How do you feel about first-half play for the Black Bears?
"They've been decimated by injuries up front to Jon Swavely, Kyle Beattie, John Parker and now Adam Shemansky.  Graduation really took a toll and no one has stepped up to fill the void left by Spencer Abbott, Will O'Neill and company.  There also has been a severe lack of effort for most of the season.  There have been maybe five players on the team who have put forth the effort we've come to expect from Maine players.  Early games in Providence and at home against St. Lawrence it looked like many of them wanted to be somewhere other than a hockey rink."
In the last few games, it looks like Maine has started to turn it around.  Has there been any major roster changes or team decisions that caused this?
"Going to Martin Ouellette in goal has been key to the improved play we've witnessed.  Not by coincidence, we've also seen the effort increase ten fold in the past few games.  Unfortunately it hasn't translated to victories.  This is the first semester without a home win since the 1982-83 Maine team coached by Jack Semler.  For most fans now it's more a matter of we'll believe in an improvement when we see the results in the win column."
How has Maine adapted with the loss of Hobey Baker finalist Spencer Abbott?  Has the freshmen class been able to reduce the pain of his absence in any way?
"Pain is a good way to describe it.  No one has really stepped up yet.  Tri-Captain Joey Diamond (3-3-6) has tried but without the space he received from Abbott and Matt Mangene, he has struggled.  Early in the season he pressed, tried to pick corners and didn't rely on teammates to help him.  He hit the post six times in his first few games.  As the team has improved, his play has also improved.  The freshmen class does have potential, especially leading scorer Devin Shore (1-6-7) and he got a lot of respect for coming back out and playing despite an injury he suffered in the first period against Boston University."
Finally, Mr. Forsyth, I have to ask, what is your prediction for not only the game, but the tournament as well?
"Things look good for your Bulldogs.  Maine is already weak, but will be playing without Shemansky and senior defenseman Nick Pryor who has the flu.  I would love to predict an upset, but UMD should be able to score a couple of goals which against this Maine team is enough.  The other game features co-host Cornell vs Ferris State where I would give an edge to Cornell.  I could see either UMD or Cornell winning the championship, but seeing as this is a Bulldog blog and I keep hearing how improved you guys are recently (4-1-1) I'll go with Duluth."

Thanks to John for chatting with me and giving us Bulldog fans a better idea of the team they're up against.  Puck drops soon!