Dartmouth College transfer Kevin Swallow will make his long-awaited debut tonight when his University of Maine’s Black Bears entertain College Hockey America’s Niagara University Purple Eagles in the first of a two-game series.
Swallow suffered a high ankle sprain Oct. 4 in the Blue-White intrasquad game and just returned to practice this week.
Swallow probably won’t play on special teams this weekend, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead, but he will take a regular shift at right wing on a line with freshman center Kyle Solomon and sophomore left wing Robby Dee.
The Stanwood, Mich., native had eight goals and 14 assists in 32 games for Dartmouth during the 2006-2007 season before transferring to Maine and sitting out last season under NCAA transfer regulations. However, he did practice with the team.
“This will be his first game in a while so I don’t want to give him a ton of ice time,” said Whitehead. “But we want him to get his feet wet.”
Swallow, who has two years of eligibility remaining, might be able to jumpstart the Bears’ attack. Maine has scored just four goals through its first four games.
“He’s a very well-rounded player. He brings a lot to the table,” said Whitehead. “He’ll [eventually] help us in all situations. He’s smart with the puck and he’s a tough kid.
“He spent two years with the [United States National Team Development Program squad] so he brings a lot of good experience. He practiced with us last year so he knows our system and he’s obviously hungry to play. He played well in the Blue-White game. We’re excited to have him back,” added the Maine coach.
Whitehead indicated freshman winger Theo Andersson, who missed Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Northeastern with a shoulder injury, will probably return to the lineup Saturday night.
Sophomore center Glenn Belmore will again be sidelined by a knee injury suffered in the first exhibition game against the University of New Brunswick on Oct. 10. Whitehead is hoping to get him back for the Hockey East game Nov. 9 against defending national champion Boston College.
The Maine coach said his team will have its hands full against a good Niagara team with an experienced goalie in Juliano Pagliero.
“This will be a good opportunity to learn more about our team,” said Whitehead, who had 14 freshmen and sophomores in Saturday’s lineup.
“It’ll be a good challenge for us. We’ve got to find a way to finish our chances. There’s no easy solution,” said Whitehead. “We’ve got to take the eyes away from the goalie and get second and third whacks at the puck.”