The battle for playing time begins tonight when the University of Maine men’s hockey team holds its Blue-White intra-squad game beginning at 7 at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears will play two, 25-minute halves rather than the usual three, 20-minute periods and then there will be a shootout.
Twelve new players will see their first action under game conditions as the Black Bears seek answers to two crucial questions: Who will put the puck in the net, and who will keep it out of their net?
“This will give us a chance to see where we’re at,” said senior winger and co-captain Jeff Marshall. “We’ll get a good read on things we need to work on and where we’re at with our systems. And we’ll see if anybody steps up and shines.”
“There are no positions etched in stone. Everything is up for grabs so you’ll see a lot of guys laying it all out,” said senior left wing Chris Hahn.
One of the newcomers who will be particularly eager to see the puck drop is Kevin Swallow, who had to sit out last year after transferring to Maine from Dartmouth College.
“I don’t know about everybody else, but I know I’ll definitely be ready,” said Swallow.
Maine has lost its top six scorers, its two best defensemen and standout goalie Ben Bishop.
Besides Swallow, former Bangor High School star Nick Payson is the other redshirt who will be seeing his first game duty in a year.
The freshmen will be forwards Gustav Nyquist, Theo Andersson, Kyle Solomon, Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn; defensemen Ryan Hegarty, Will O’Neill and Mark Nemec and goalies Scott Darling and Josh Seeley.
Next weekend the Bears travel to Fredericton, New Brunswick, for a pair of exhibition games against the University of New Brunswick. The following weekend they open their season on the road in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the Alaskan Goal Rush Tournament.