The Maine Black Bears have been slowly expanding their recruiting from the old days of just recruiting guys from Massachusetts when the program first started 36 years ago.
Nowadays Maine players come from all over the country, continent, and in some cases the globe. Of the 28 players, their are 7 canadians, only 3 native Mainers, including one player from Sweden.
Now you might ask yourself, why aren’t there a lot of players from Maine? Well the short answer is Maine isn’t quite the recruiting pipeline for hockey prospects; while there are some talented individuals from the pine tree state, Maine wouldn’t be where they are today if they just recruited in-state. So with a lack of resources within the home state of the Black Bears, they’ve got to recruit elsewhere.
For a more historical aspect of how/where players were recruited; I talked to my uncle Mike, UMaine alum (‘81), who told me about the early days of UMaine hockey, which started up his freshman year in 1977. “In the early days of the program [late 70’s], most of the players were guys from Massachusetts that probably weren’t heavily recruited by BU, BC, and other big D1 schools. That achieved a reasonable level of success for a time, but after the initial group of players graduated (1981) the program began to suffer.”
It’s showed as from 1977-81 Maine went 78-47-2 under Jack Semler, then they immediately fell in the next three seasons going 27-65. “Shawn Walsh and Grant Standbrook came in and began to recruit nationally and internationally and the rest was history.”
This time period from 1984-2001 saw national success thanks to Walsh’s coaching and Grant Standbrook’s recruitment. As my dad, also UMaine alum (‘85), once told me, “If Standbrook wanted someone, he’d get him. He was just that good.” Standbrook would stay following Walsh’s death in 2001 and stay with Whitehead till 2008.
Nowadays, some of the recruiting nowadays goes internationally. Cody Beckett, the play-by-play guy for WMEB, said about modern day recruiting, “the main pipeline has always been Canada, but late in the Whitehead era he really expanded to Sweden (Norman, leidermark, Andersson & Nyquist).” In terms of the domestic front [US], “US born players generally have come from the New England to Mid Atlantic region.”
It really goes to show that to compete at Division I hockey, you gotta really expand your horizon of where you recruit to remain relevant. Maine has done a decent job of that, by not only recruiting in the Mid-Atlantic, but moving into Michigan and Minnesota, and in one case of a new recruit, Illinois.
To show my point of how sparse they come from, here’s a map of where all our players come from, a few dots overlap, Zack Glienke & Will Merchant are both from Eagan, MN; Jon and Steven Swavely are both from Reading, PA.
To see a more interactive version of this map, click this link here