April 02, 2020

Orsini commits to UMaine Whitehead feels Bears need to make defensive adjustments

The University of Maine men’s hockey program has landed a player who can play either defense or forward.

Montreal native Keif Orsini has verbally committed to attend Maine next fall.

Orsini is playing right wing for the St. Jerome Panthers in the Quebec AAA Junior Hockey League. He is second on the team in scoring with five goals and 11 assists in nine games.

He was a defenseman for the Nepean Raiders in the Central (Ontario) Junior Hockey League last season.

“Keif is a very versatile player. He can play center, wing, or defense. And he’s an all-around player who is as complete a package as you can get, ” said St. Jerome general manager and part-owner Bill Hattem. “We play him on the point on the power play. He gets a lot of ice time.”

“He’s a very, very intelligent player,” added Hattem. “He’s physical. He takes the body all the time. His biggest asset is his vision. He really sees the play very, very well. He has all the tools needed to become a very solid hockey player at Maine’s level.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Orsini said he “couldn’t be happier” with his decision.

“I visited the campus and got to talk to coach [Tim] Whitehead and [assistant] coach [Guy] Perron and the more I talked with them, the more comfortable I felt,” said Orsini.

He said Maine is a good fit for him athletically and academically.

The 19-year-old Orsini said Northeastern, Merrimack, and Massachusetts also expressed interest in him.

He said it doesn’t matter what position he plays at Maine.

“I told [Whitehead and Perron] once I’m there at Maine, I’m all theirs,” said Orsini. “Like most guys, I enjoy scoring. But I also have fun being physical and not allowing the other team to score.”

His coming to Maine is dependent upon his acceptance to the institution and meeting NCAA Clearinghouse requirements.

Defense to be addressed

After reviewing the videotape of the Blue-White scrimmage game, won by the Blue team 6-5 in overtime, Whitehead is eyeing Friday night’s opener against the University of Minnesota in the Hall-of-Fame game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

“The biggest positives were our creativity with the puck and our offensive skills,” said Whitehead. “But our team defense left a lot to be desired. That’s our top priority right now.”

He said he wasn’t surprised with his team’s defensive lapses because “when you have a Blue-White game with 10-12 guys on each team after a month of captain’s practices, you tend to develop poor defensive habits. We’ve got to buckle down defensively because Minnesota has a lot of firepower.”

Five of the players he singled out for solid performances were wingers Chris Hahn and Wes Clark and defensemen Matt Duffy, Bryan Plaszcz, and Simon Danis-Pepin. Clark is a junior while the others are sophomores.

“They showed us they’re prepared to elevate their games and help us out more this year,” said Whitehead.

Minnesota was 27-9-5 last year and is ranked third in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. Maine is 11th.

“This is a great challenge to start the year. It’s a tremendous event to be part of for our program and the university,” said Whitehead.

Frosh marvel at crowd size

Freshman wingers Teddy Purcell and Tony Morrone were surprised by the turnout of approximately 1,500 for the Blue-White game.

“This is what we’d get to our [U.S. Junior Hockey League] games and those were real games. For an exhibition game, especially one in which we were just playing each other, it’s fantastic,” said Purcell.

Morrone called it “pretty amazing for a scrimmage. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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