He began his University of Maine men’s hockey career in dramatic fashion by notching points in his first four games.
Then there was a midseason slump and Marty Kariya found himself in the stands watching his teammates play.
But a new and improved Kariya is making an impact these days.
After being a healthy scratch for five games during a seven-game stretch, he was reinserted into the lineup against UMass-Lowell on Feb. 18 and he has responded with three goals and six assists over the last eight games.
In addition to his regular shift at center – he had been a wing until the UMass-Lowell game – he also sees duty on the power play and penalty-killing units.
“He has become an offensive catalyst for us,” said Maine coach Shawn Walsh. “He has always had terrific defensive instincts. As his ice time has increased, his confidence has increased. He has been a different player since we moved him to center. Marty is one of our most improved players.”
Kariya said there has been a “lot of luck involved” with his resurgence.
“You’ve got to get the right opportunity at the right time and that’s what happened when he put me in at center,” said Kariya, who had been a center for most of his career prior to coming to Maine. “He put me in at the right time because Lowell is an open-ice team. So I got some confidence back and things have gone on from there.”
He had a game-winning goal and an assist in his first game, a 4-1 win, and in the second game of the UMass-Lowell series, he was between Chris Heisten and Tommy Reimann, who had been his linemates in practice. They combined for three goals and two assists in the 4-3 triumph.
“Chris and Tommy are great. We showed what we could do in practice; coach (Walsh) gave us a chance in the second Lowell game and we took care of it. That’s all you can really do: keep showing him you can play and hope he’ll have confidence enough to put you into a game,” said Kariya, who is currently centering for the Heisten brothers, Chris and Barrett.
He said his last eight games haven’t all been good “but my bad games haven’t been that bad. That’s the key. If my worse game now is still half-decent, that’s pretty good.
“Right now, I’m pretty conscious of my defensive efforts and I’m really concentrating on penalty-killing and the power play. You can’t really control your offense. That’s just luck,” said Kariya, whose 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) are two more than older brother Steve’s freshman total at Maine.
He is looking forward to Friday’s Hockey East semifinal game against Boston University at the FleetCenter in Boston.
“I can’t wait to play at the FleetCenter. It’s going to be awesome,” said the youngest of the three brothers to play at Maine. Paul Kariya won the Hobey Baker Award during his freshman year in leading Maine to the national championship in 1992-93. Steve was a Hobey finalist a year ago in guiding the Bears to their second national title.
Senior captain Cory Larose said Marty Kariya’s work ethic has been instrumental in his resurgence.
“He works so hard in practice and he stays out after practice working on different moves. He’s playing great right now and his confidence has grown. He makes things happen. His improvement has been amazing. If he keeps that up the next few years, he’ll be something to behold,” said Larose.
Meader, Rivers receive recognition
University of Maine-Farmington’s Daren Meader of Waterville and Jared Rivers of Skowhegan were honored with national recognition. Meader was named to the NAIA Division II All-America Third Team, while Rivers was named as Honorable Mention All-American after the two seniors helped lead UMF to a 21-5 season, the school’s first 20-win season in 11 years.
Meader, a 6-foot-4 guard who was the Maine Atheltic Conference Player of the Year, averaged 22.5 points, 5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game, and managed a 69.6 free-throw percentage.
Meader finished his UMF career second all-time in points with 1,819, and amassed 472 assists (fourth), 610 rebounds (10th), 183 steals (second), and 685 field goals (second).
Rivers, a 6-4 forward playing in his second season at UMF, averaged 20.4 ppg (second in the MAC), 8.5 rpg, 2.4 apg, and finished with a 64.2 field goal percentage to lead the MAC. He was First Team All-MAC and runner-up for MAC Player of the Year. Rivers finished his second year at UMF with a 57.3 field goal percentage (third all-time) and 57 blocked shots (second).
In UMF coach Dick Meader’s seven years as coach of the Beavers, his son, Daren, is the school’s first All-American.
Rivers, who walked on at UMaine and played a year at Husson before transferring to UMF his junior year, was the perfect complement to Meader.
“They played off each other well,” Dick Meader said. “Daren was also our assist leader. Through his penetration, he created shots for other players, and Jared was one of them. Also, Jared was very good on the offensive boards and he would create opportunities.”
Rivers’ stellar season came despite the fact he was hurt most of January with a sprained ankle and missed five games.
Bangor’s Cooper places second
Cadet Jason A. Cooper, son of John and Lynne Cooper of Bangor, placed second in the 198-pound division during the Military National Powerlifting Competition in San Diego last Saturday.
Cooper, a 1997 Bangor High School graduate, competed for the Army Powerlifting Team of the U.S. Military Academy. Representatives from all branches of military service competed.
Cooper plans to graduate from West Point in 2001 and be commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
EM Tech honors hoop players
Nicholas Wiberg of Stonington recently gained the Bob Duffy Memorial Award for the Eastern Maine Technical College men’s basketball team. The award is based on sportsmanship, leadership and attitude.
Also gaining team awards for EM Tech of Bangor were: Newcomer of the Year, Brad Galley of Campobello, New Brunswick; Eagle Award (coach’s award), Josh St. Clair of Pittsfield; Best Defense, James Osborne of Medway; Most Improved Player, Mason Doore, Augusta; and Best Offense, Nathan Cyr, Enfield.