ORONO — Adjusting to a new style of play under new head coach Ben Barr is going to be a season-long process for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

That’s the biggest takeaway from the Black Bears’ pair of season-opening losses at Nebraska Omaha this past weekend.

Maine lost 4-1 Friday night and 5-3 Saturday. The Black Bears are off until Oct. 22-23, when they’ll host Sacred Heart for a pair of games at Alfond Arena.

“For the most part, our effort all weekend was good. We couldn’t sustain it in the third periods, which was disappointing. We grew in some areas,” said Barr following Wednesday morning’s practice. “We’re trying to play a really up-tempo, hard game. To do that, we have to be mentally fit to do it, and we have to be physically fit to do it. To a man, are we there yet? I don’t know. I don’t think we are. That’s going to be our challenge as the year goes on.”

Maine was tied going into the third period in each game, but fatigue helped lead to mistakes. The Black Bears committed seven penalties in Friday’s game, four in the third period.

“Penalties just take momentum away,” said senior Adam Dawe, who had a goal and an assist over the weekend.

“It’s a lack of mental focus and fatigue. We had some selfish penalties and we had some penalties that were too aggressive,” said Jack Quinlivan, the team’s captain. “It’s finding the right balance and having your head on a swivel and being aware of where your stick is and what part of the body you’re hitting.”

Quinlivan said the team needs to get to the point where it’s playing with confidence and at full speed. It’s not there yet.

“You can’t hesitate out there. Whatever decision you make has to be 100 percent. If it’s 50 percent, then you’re going to get exposed and going to hurt the team. Everything you do has to be at full throttle,” Quinlivan said.

Barr said he liked the team’s effort, but the 12 penalties over the two games were the result of mental mistakes made when tired. That should improve as the team adjusts to its new style of play, Barr said. Barr added he hopes players will ask questions as they learn the new system.

“Everything that we’re trying to do is new to these guys. We have to keep drilling on making sure everyone knows what we’re trying to do, watching video with guys and as a team. We have to use every minute we have to get everybody up to speed,” Barr said.

Although the Black Bears left Nebraska without a win, Quinlivan felt the team played much better than it did in a 7-0 exhibition loss to Quinnipiac.

“I just think we’re building. We need to be a little tighter defensively. I think our effort on pucks was a lot better than in the Quinnipiac scrimmage. I think we were moving our feet more. When you move the feet and you’re hard on pucks, the games are going to be a lot closer than we were against Quinnipiac, or against anyone,” Quinlivan said.

As the team is learning Barr’s style, the new coach is learning about the team.

“As a whole, I think every guy gave us what he could. We can execute better, but especially this year, all we’re looking for to a man is that they give us 100 percent every single day, and they play detailed hockey. It was a step in the right direction in that regard,” Barr said.


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