April 07, 2020

Bears set to battle Huskies > Buddies Janik of UM, Levesque of NU clash

You wouldn’t know University of Maine junior defenseman Doug Janik and Northeastern University junior right wing Willie Levesque were close friends after watching their last game, a 1-1 overtime tie in Boston on Nov. 4.

And you won’t know it based on this weekend’s Maine-Northeastern series at the Alfond Arena (Friday night) and Portland’s Cumberland County Civic Center (Sunday afternoon).

If there is a loose puck in the corner, Maine’s No. 3 and Northeastern’s No. 7 will be scrapping for it like a pair of junkyard dogs.

“When we’re on the ice, it’s definitely a different world. We come to compete. If that means getting a stick up high, so be it. We’ll do whatever we have to in order to get the job done,” said Levesque.

Janik agrees.

“Willie is a physical player. But I’m certainly not going to back down,” said Janik.

Janik and Levesque were teammates on the U.S. Development Team four years ago. They were two guys from Massachusetts who were a long way from home in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Janik is from Agawam, Mass., while Levesque hails from Vineyard Haven.

“We used to hang out together out there,” said Janik.

The players also played for Team USA in the World Junior Championships in Sweden last season.

Along with their friendship, both players have tremendous respect for each other’s abilities.

“Willie is one of the best power forwards in college hockey,” said Janik. “He’s strong, he’s a good competitor and a real dedicated kid. He’s got a hard shot and goes to the net hard.

“When you go up against him, he brings out the best in you,” added Janik.

Levesque called Janik “a world-class defenseman. He wouldn’t be playing on the World Junior team or leading the power play at Maine if he wasn’t.

“Doug has a great future,” added Levesque.

It would appear both have promising futures.

Janik was a second-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 1999 and Levesque was selected two rounds later by the San Jose Sharks.

Janik has the bragging rights based on points racked up so far this season as Janik has a goal and six assists in 12 games while Levesque has three goals and three assists in 11 games.

Both players said their individual friendship and rivalry adds some spice to their games against each other.

“I’m looking forward to the weekend, especially seeing Doug and playing against him. We have a great rivalry with Maine,” said Levesque.

Janik said his team’s 5-4-3 record (2-1-1 in Hockey East) further fuels the need for his team to have a productive weekend.

“We’ve been hanging around the .500 mark all year. It’s time we stepped it up,” said Janik, one of the Bears’ co-captains.

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