They were Black Bears. Now they are Steelheads.
One of the most prolific lines in the West Coast Hockey League features three former University of Maine stars.
Dan Shermerhorn centers the line between left wing Cal Ingraham and right wing Shawn Wansborough. Shermerhorn, who had 13 goals and 15 assists in 18 games entering Friday night’s game against San Diego, and Ingraham, who had 11 goals and 13 assists, are among the top eight scorers in the league while Wansborough has seven goals and nine assists.
The Steelheads’ 14-4 record was the best in the league.
Wansborough is still rounding into shape after missing most of last season to have reconstructive surgery on both knees.
“When he came to camp, he was 240 pounds. He had to go through the Zamboni opening to get on the ice,” joked Shermerhorn, who had 27 goals and 50 assists for Baton Rouge (La.) in the East Coast Hockey League last season.
Wansborough, who played 11 games in London, England, a year ago before his surgeries, said, “I’m down to around 218 now.”
The line has jelled and has been dubbed the “Bear Line” by the local media in Boise.
“So far, so good,” said Shermerhorn who pointed out that their contrasting styles have been beneficial.
Shermerhorn is the playmaker and defensive specialist; Ingraham is the gritty sniper and Wansborough is the physical presence who creates space for the other two.
“But Cal also passes the puck,” said Shermerhorn. “He’s all over the place so I’m still getting used to finding him [so I can hit him with a pass].”
Ingraham said having all three of them play at Maine – Ingraham and Shermerhorn spent one year together and Wansborough and Shermerhorn were together for three years – has also been an advantage.
“We played the same systems at Maine,” said Ingraham, who has put together back-to-back 101 and 110-point seasons for the Steelheads.
Wansborough added that “Maine recruits players who want to win and who are willing to work hard [to get those wins].”
They enjoy playing on a line together and they also see duty on the power play. Shermerhorn and Ingraham kill penalties and Wansborough is also being groomed as a penalty killer.
They also said they are playing for a quality team that has a lot of former collegians on it, including yet another Bear, defenseman Matt Martin, who had a goal and six assists in 12 games. He has played up front most of the year.
Yet another teammate is former Michigan star Mike Legg whose balancing act with the puck on his stick, resulting in a goal, was a video highlight on virtually local every channel.
Legg was also the center Shermerhorn beat on an offensive zone face-off that allowed him to score the game-winning goal in triple overtime in their NCAA semifinal in 1995.
“I don’t mention it to him. But I’m still waiting for the picture of me celebrating and him hanging his head after that goal,” deadpanned Shermerhorn, who was named the WCHL Player of the Month for November on Friday.
Roommates Shermerhorn and Wansborough enjoy the area and the 5,000-seat Bank of America Centre arena. They average more than 4,000 per game.
“We’re supposed to play golf but there’s too much snow,” said Shermerhorn.
Ingraham is close to setting a personal record for penalty minutes as he has 49, including a hitting from behind major and game disqualification and an elbowing major and game misconduct.
“I’d skate over to help him out and there would be a guy with his face pressed against the ice and Cal was skating around like nothing happened,” said Shermerhorn.
“They won’t leave me alone,” said the 5-foot-6 Ingraham, who was the frequent target of big defensemen at Maine, also.