Editor's note: NESN.com will preview each Hockey East school this week.
Despite mediocre play through the first four months of the season, the Black Bears broke away from the pack and nearly earned a home ice spot in last year's Hockey East Tournament. With an extra year of experience from his netminders, Tim Whitehead will look to guide Maine to the top of Hockey East in 2011-12.
Record/finish in 2010-11
14-8-5 (33 points)
Fifth in Hockey East
Lost in Hockey East quarterfinal (Merrimack)
Key 2010-11 stat
In the midst of a tight battle for the final spots in the Hockey East Tournament, the Black Bears saved their best play for the end of the season. Maine went 6-0-1 in its final seven regular season games, outscoring opponents 30-10 and posting three shutouts.
Player to watch in 2011-12
Senior forward Brian Flynn is the league's top returning point getter and goal scorer from a season ago. Flynn was seventh in the conference with 30 points last year, netting 15 goals and tallying 15 assists.
"It's no secret that [goaltending] was a tough position for us last year, but I'm very confident in them [sophomores Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellette] and I think these guys are going to surprise people this year. We're going to be determined to play great team defense in front of them and give them an opportunity to take the next step."
The major question in Orono will be who replaces the production of Gustav Nyquist, who finished third in the league in scoring with 15 goals, 21 assists and 36 goals. Flynn and fellow senior Spencer Abbott (12-16-28) will likely shoulder the load, and improved play in net should allow Maine a clear path to a top four finish and a home ice berth in the Hockey East Tournament.