Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not Your Father's Maine Black Bears

The Maine Black Bears have a fairly short but very storied history as a Division I hockey team. They started playing DI just a couple of years before UAA in 1977-78. Unlike UAA though the Black Bears have had multiple successes within that timeline. They scored National Championships in 92-93 and 98-99. The common element involved in those success was Shawn Walsh. Walsh was certainly one of the most polarizing figures in college hockey history. He was beloved by many (including 99.9999% of Maine fans) and left a big hole when he passed away at 46 (a year younger me) in 2001 from renal cell carcinoma. During his tenure he was suspended by the NCAA for a year for multiple recruiting violations. The Seawolves have gone 2-2-1 versus Maine all-time.

Since Walsh passed on the Black Bears have had Tim Whitehead at the helm. Over 8 seasons Tim hasn't exactly built a wealth of support among the Black Bear faithful who express themselves on the internet. Walsh is a tough act to follow but that doesn't tell the whole story. Assistant coaches have bailed left and right. In case you forgot, UAA's Campell Blair came to us directly from Maine. And last year the long respected Grant Standbrook retired from recruiting leaving Maine fans wondering how the next phenom would be brought to Maine. Standbrook was "da man" finding diamonds that other prospectors had walked right past. One consequence of all this is the Maine fanbase is collectively wringing their hands with nervous anticipation while some are flat out calling for his head. The "Fire Timmay" contingent is neither silent nor limited.

As to what to expect on the ice this Friday afternoon? On paper one of the youngest teams in college hockey. A goaltender (Dave Wilson) with stunningly bad statistics over the 4 games he played last year. The Black Bears leaned heavily on the now departed Ben Bishop (so much so that the #1 backup transferred to UAA's second opponent Mercyhurst) and so there is a big hole to fill there. Putting the statistics aside, the Seawolves should assume they're going to see a competitive athlete in the opponents crease. The Black Bears don't return a lot of scoring. They are young throughout the lineup. They won and tied in a preseason series with Canadian opponent New Brunswick this past weekend. There is only one posted boxscore from that series in Canada; it says that NB scored 4 goals on 4 shots ... on the aforementioned Wilson. I don't know if I even believe that. Maybe a Mainuh will stop by and confirm it?

It's clear to me that none of this tells an adequate story regarding UAA's first opponent this weekend. Honestly though, there isn't a whole lot else to say. They have a couple of reasonably resume'ed freshman in the fold. None of this suggests to me that Maine will be some sort of walkover as an opponent. Instead they are just a bit of a mystery.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the word on McCabe and Daychief for this weekend. Will they ever put the jersey back on again? If not a major hole as they were both hyped for good sophmore years.

Donald Dunlop said...

Wow. 2 guys didn't suit up for one weekend and we're wondering if they will EVER play again? I think that's a stretch eh?

The only fact that we really know about either of their situations is that we know no facts.

If and when it's necessary or appropriate for public consumption then there'll be some firm word from the University. So at this point that means there is no reason to assume anything ... positive or negative. Let's not do so eh?

Bruce Ciskie said...

Donald--

Something was messed up with that box score. I was told New Brunswick actually had 38 shots on goal in that one.

Donald Dunlop said...

Common sense should have told me that. I suppose I was fancying the idea (it would be a unique event) that some poor bastard let in 4 goals on 4 shots.

I'll stop by and say hi for sure in a couple of weeks if you're coming up for the UMD games.

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