Auburn, ME. – The Central Maine Community College Mustangs hockey club is hoping to round out a three game homestand with a second consecutive victory when they take the ice this weekend at Norway Savings Bank Arena. To do so they will need to upend a University of Maine team that has had the Mustangs number over the first few years of their existence.
The Black Bears take the trip down I-95 having won all of their previous match-ups with Central Maine, including the first game in the program's history in 2016. It's a history the Mustangs are looking to rewrite the two teams drop the puck at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
"It's a big one," smiled Central Maine head coach Matt Buotte after a spirited practice on Thursday morning. "This one means a lot to us. We have a few guys in our room who haven't been able to get over the hump against these guys. It would be a special feeling to be able to do so in front of our fans."
The Mustangs are coming off a thrilling 8-4 victory over another instate rival, St. Jospeh's College. Freshman forward Carl Bear scored four goals in the win, complimented by linemate Jordy Knoren's four assists. Knoren, a third year forward from Heerlen, Netherlands, believes the team is well-prepared for the intrastate match-up.
"UMaine brings a lot of individual skill," said Knoren, who serves as a captain for the Mustangs. "If we play our own game, trust the systems, and execute the little things we will be right there with a shot to win in the third."
Lewiston native Jacob Strout will be starting in goal for the Mustangs after a difficult first outing against Bentley.
"We're excited to get out there and play in front of Strout," said Buotte. "We really let him down in our home opener, we were pretty lackluster. We know how great of a goalie he is. We've really tightened things up defensively and will work hard on limiting their second chances. We know he is going to keep us in it."
The Mustangs will hit the road for three games after Sunday's home tilt, with trips to Gordon College, New England College, and Mass Maritime Academy on deck. The team has gone 1-1-0 over their first home stand of the year and will be determined to finish on a strong note.
"This is a big game for our team," said third year forward Dana Taylor-Fifield. "A lot of people are pulling for us to get the win against UMaine and we are more than prepared to go out there and take it."