UMaine hockey player on a streak after a year of drought

Donavan Houle thought he had lost his scoring touch.

The University of Maine sophomore right winger had scored 31 goals in 46 games for the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League during the 2019-20 season and added three more goals in four playoff games.

But he hasn’t scored a single goal for UMaine in his 16-game 2020-21 season and has gone seven games without one this season.

Houle eventually broke through with UMaine’s two goals in a 3-2 overtime loss to UConn and scored one goal in every game at Boston College last weekend before adding the shootout winner, well that shootout goals don’t count on stats.

He now has four goals in his last five games heading into Saturday’s 5 p.m. game against UMass Lowell at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

“Last year I didn’t know if I would score goals again. I felt like I had lost him. It feels good to be able to do it again this year, ”said Houle. “That first goal lifted a weight off my shoulders. It made me feel good and gave me confidence. I feel like I can score in every game.

He said the key to his success has been to release his shot faster. “I’ve always tried to move my feet, finish my hits and play with energy,” Houle said.

Houle’s excessive manipulation would sometimes lead to turnovers, said UMaine head coach Ben Barr.

“He’s a very energetic guy for us and he was rewarded by scoring a few goals,” Barr said. “His attitude is great. He works his buttocks. If he continues to improve he will be a very important factor in this league.

Houle, 22, a 6-foot, 185-pound Montreal native who collected two assists a year ago, said he decided to compete in UMaine after witnessing the 2-1 victory of the Black Bears against New Hampshire on November 16. , 2019. There were 5,012 people in attendance at the Alfond arena for this game.

“It was a great experience. L’Alfond was amazing. I had good discussions with the coaches and it’s close to home,” said Houle.

Houle is one of the hardest working players on the team, said senior right winger Adam Dawe, adding that Houle deserved goals last year for the way he worked.

“It’s good to see the floodgates open. He’s buzzing now, ”Dawe said.

Houle leads UMaine forwards in blocked shots with six. He is an uncompromising player who finishes his checks and forces turnovers. He plays in the shorthanded and shorthanded units in addition to his regular shifts.

“He’s in great shape which allows him to play as strong and heavy as him,” Barr said.

Houle is hoping his goal streak continues against the River Hawks.

“Things are flowing, the pucks are bouncing for me. I must continue.

The team are looking forward to playing in Portland this weekend.

“It’s always fun,” said Dawe, who is 2-0 at Portland. “It’s a different type of landscape. You don’t have that many students. It’s more fans of the community. But it was really good the two times I played there.

The majority of Portland’s games have been non-conference, but it will be a Hockey East competition.

“It’s gonna be really cool,” said freshman center Nolan Renwick. “It’s going to be a new experience. We will be able to release the game to new fans in Portland. There is a lot of history there.

UMaine is 1-9-2 overall, 1-6-1 in Hockey East and will face the nation’s No. 15 team with UMass Lowell (7-2-2, 5-1-0).

“It will be a great test for us. It’s a very good team and Norm Bazin is one of the best coaches in the country, ”Barr said.

Lowell includes Andre Lee (8 goals, 2 assists), Carl Berglund (2 & 7) and Lucas Condotta (4 & 4), as well as defenseman Ben Meehan (3 & 3) and goalkeeper Owen Savory (6-1-1 , 1.24 goals against average, save percentage of .947).

Defenders Jakub Sirota (3 & 4) and David Breazeale (1 & 6) are UMaine’s top scorers, followed by Dawe (2 & 4) and Lynden Breen (2 & 4). Houle and Grant Hebert are the top scorers with four goals apiece and Victor Ostman (1-4-1, 3.45, 0.886) is the likely starter in goal.

Catherine J. Martinez