Recap of Everything Maine Black Bears

Hello folks, sorry for the hiatus without posting, I’ve been busy with academics and life in general as my time in my third year here at the University of Maine nears its conclusion.

There’s been a lot going on since the season ended almost a month ago. Here’s a shortlist of some news and updates.

Season Recap

With the season over, the WMEB Sports hockey crew for the 2013-14 season recapped the season on Tape-to-Tape a few weeks ago.

For next year, I’ll move up to the position as the Play-by-Play man for the broadcasts, the rest of my crew is to be determined at a later date.

Captains Selected For 2014-15 Season

Devin Shore

Devin Shore

Less than 48 hours after the 13-14 season came to a conclusion, the Black Bears had announced the captains for the 2014-15 season. Soon-to-be junior forward Devin Shore was named the captain for the Black Bear squad. The Sophomore managed a 14-29-43 stat line in his second year and finishing for the second year as the team’s leading scorer.

The Alternate captains were also named, soon-to-be seniors Stu Higgins and Jake Rutt. Higgins had a decent year as a second line center, his season was cut short on Jan 21 when a knee injury in an exhibition game ended his season. He did register a 6-4-10 stat line in 20 games played. This was an expected choice as he seems to be one of the vocal leaders in the locker room and arguably his injury was the turning point of the season.

The one that caught some people by surprise was the selection of Jake Rutt. The junior defensemen statistically didn’t produce much, but he was great defensemen when he managed to stay out of the penalty box. He managed to stay out of the box in the middle of the year, but the beginning and end were a different story. Some would argue why him? Well he’s a defensemen, with two captains being forwards it would only make sense to have a defender as one of the three. Also I don’t feel that Ben Hutton is a leader just yet, if he sticks around for his senior year (15-16) I feel he’ll get captaincy duties. I like the choice of Rutt personally as he’s the only senior defensemen so it works perfectly, while he’s racked his fair share of penalty minutes, when he stays out of the box he’s a force to be reckoned with as a solid defender.

Departures

With the season ending, this means that the seniors begin to depart from campus in hopes of making it in pro hockey.

Brice O'ConnorFirst to go was captain Brice O’Connor as he signed a contract with the ECHL club, the Stockton Thunder. The Stockton Thunder is a minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders, it’s kind of like the Portland Sea Dogs to the Boston Red Sox for those that don’t understand the ECHL. He was reunited with teammate Joey Diamond who was recently demoted from Bridgeport. He however was released on April 3rd, no indication of any future activity this season. He contributed one assist in seven games and was involved in a line brawl with Joey Diamond against former Merrimack foe Kyle Bigos.

Mark Anthoine was the second as he signed with the Evansville IceMen, the ECHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s yet to register a point in four games, and wears the number 11.

Jon Swavely joined the departure party as he headed home to Reading, Pa to be part of the Reading Royals, the ECHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals. However he was quickly released after just one game, his future is currently unknown.

Meanwhile the two goaltenders are still here in Orono, indications have shown that the Blue Jackets have no interest in Martin Ouellette. However Columbus does hold his rights until June 5th, or 30 days after his departure from school (end of the semester). Also no word on Dan Sullivan’s future as well, he’s been seen around campus.

Stu Higgins Injury Update

It’s been almost four months since Stu Higgins ended his season with a knee injury, arguably the turning point in the season. He had knee surgery at the end of February and he’s in the middle of the rehab process. I caught up with him last week and he said “I’ve been riding the bike [lately].” He also told me there’s no time table set yet, but he’s expected to return for the season.

Schedule forming

With the college hockey season coming to a close, many teams are now working on schedules, some already have them released. Maine isn’t one of these teams, however there’s bits and pieces of the schedule that’s already known.

1) Maine will play in the Kendall Hockey Classic in Anchorage, AK against Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska Fairbanks October 10 and 11 respectively.

2) Maine will travel to Union (either National Champ or runner-up, this was written before the NC game) sometime this year. Should be sometime in Oct-Nov as typical with non-conference scheduling but nothing is known yet.

3) As believed to be in exchange for the hockey tournament over Columbus Day weekend, Alaska-Anchorage will travel to Orono, Maine for a weekend series Oct 24-25

4) As part of Maine dropping from the Florida College Classic, they’ll play a neutral-site home-and-home with UNH in Manchester, NH December 12th and then in Portland, ME December 13th.

Check back in the coming weeks for more of the schedule to be unraveled.

Commitments

We’re just days away from the beginning of the period for the hockey players to sign their National Letter of Intent. The date is Wednesday April 16th, here’s the list of current verbal commitments the Black Bears have.

  • Sean Romeo, G, ’94
  • Malcolm Hayes, D, ’95
  • Mark Hamilton, D, ’94
  • Cam Spicer, D, ’96
  • Ryan Badger, F, ’94
  • Joseph Widmar, F, ’95
  • Nolan Vesey, F, ’95
  • Liam Pecararo, F, ’96
  • Jack Musil, F, ’93

It’ll be interesting to see if any kids de-commit as their may not be enough spaces available on the roster for these kids to make an impact. While their isn’t a roster limit, the problem is only 5 players left Maine this year, two of which were goalies. So realistically only 3 roster spots opened up for next year. But we’ll see what happens, check out my twitter @aquirko as well as @sportsWMEB for any updates about commitments as news trickles in.

Thanks all for your patience with new the post, I’ll look to start posting on a more regular basis in the coming weeks.

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Alex Quirk

About Alex Quirk

Alex covers UMaine Hockey for WMEB Sports, the sports department at WMEB 91.9 FM, as the sideline reporter/live-tweeter during the games. .