Is this year’s team going to be like the one that got off to a 3-1 start, including an overtime win and an OT loss to the nation’s No. 3 team?

Or is it going to be like the club that went 0-2-2 in two road series against unranked opponents and got outshot 165-108 in those four games?

“It’s both,” answered fourth-year head coach Red Gendron, whose team has given up at least 40 shots on goal in each of the last four games. “Obviously, over the past two weekends, whatever warts we possessed were exposed. There were signs of it the first two weekends, but we got pretty good results and that can sometimes mask it.

“The bottom line is we know what our warts are and what we have to work on to get the kind of results we got over the first two weekends. That’s that,” Gendron added.

Gendron said there are three reasons for recent skid.

“First, we haven’t managed the puck well. That stunts your offense and forces you to spend more time playing defense,” said Gendron. “Second has been our discipline. We’ve given up a lot of power plays and that inflates the shot totals. Number three has been our own mistakes in the defensive zone.”

By managing the puck well, Gendron means “recognizing when there is no play to make other than chipping it by (the opponent) because they’re up in your face or you don’t have numbers. Don’t think you can stickhandle through a hornet’s nest and come out the other side (with the puck).”

Penalties have haunted UMaine all season. The Black Bears have given the opponent at least eight power-play chances in four of the last five games and opponents have converted on nine of the last 44 power plays over the last six games (20.5 percent).

“We’ve have three or four penalties a game, not out of selfish play but out of undisciplined play,” Gendron said. “Guys get excited and they don’t stop to control themselves. Those are the kinds of things we have to eliminate.”

He said they also need to do a more consistent job in their defensive zone coverages.

“We’ve circled in our own end (instead of checking an opponent), and we’ve had more than one guy run to the same opponent,” said Gendron.

“We have to stick to the process,” said junior center Cedric Lacroix.

“We have a lot of younger guys who have things to learn. You aren’t always going to be (scoring). There are going to be ups and downs during the season. As guys gain more experience, it will benefit us on the ice.”

“You’re going to go through growing pains,” said junior left wing Nolan Vesey. “It’s a matter of how fast are you going to get over them.”

Lacroix said UMaine has to take more pride in giving up fewer shots and must cut down on its propensity for penalties.

Vesey said assistant coach Ben Guite is good at outlining defensive zone coverages and the coaching staff has been, “harping on it in practice.

“It starts with the older guys. If we set the tone for the younger guys and they see us doing it, they’re going to follow suit,” said Vesey.

Senior defenseman Eric Schurhamer said the last two weekends have been a “wake-up call for us.

“We need to be better at the little things and play a full 60 minutes … we’ve got to get off to a good start and keep the energy level high for the full 60 minutes,” he said.

UMaine (3-3-2) returns to action Friday at 7 p.m. in its Hockey East opener against No. 5 Boston College (6-2-1) at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. The two teams play in Orono on Saturday night at 7:30.


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