Nathan Gerbe haunted the University of Maine for three seasons and he led his Boston College Eagles to the NCAA championship last year.
But he will be wearing the home colors on Dec. 9 when his Portland Pirates take on former Black Bears Teddy Purcell and Michel Leveille and their Manchester Monarchs in an American Hockey League game at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena beginning at 7.
Tickets can be obtained by calling the UMaine athletic ticket office at 581-2327 or 1-800-756-8326.
Purcell had two goals and an assists, all on the power play, as the Monarchs went 4-for-5 on the power play in a 6-2 triumph over the Pirates in front of 3,000 fans at Alfond last year.
Former Black Bear All-Americans Eric Weinrich (Portland) and Scott Pellerin (Manchester) will return to Alfond as assistant coaches. Weinrich played for Portland in last year’s game.
The Pirates are now affiliated with Buffalo after ending their agreement with Anaheim.
The Monarchs are the Los Angeles Kings’ top minor league team.
The 5-foot-6, 160-pound Gerbe, a Hobey Baker Award finalist a year ago, is leading the Pirates in scoring with 13 goals and 10 assists in 20 games. Former Michigan State star Tim Kennedy (5 & 16 in 20 games) is second. Both are rookies.
Purcell is leading the Monarchs with 9 & 9 in 20 games while Leveille has 0 & 6 in 15.
Weinrich and Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen said Gerbe and Kennedy will be two of the players to watch.
“Nathan is one exciting kid,” said Weinrich. “He has every characteristic a good pro has. When you get a chance to see him play, you’ve got to be impressed with his hockey ability. And he doesn’t back down from anybody. What has also impressed [the coaching staff] is his work ethic and attitude. He wants to improve every day.”
Dineen called Gerbe a “fan favorite. He’s so dynamic. He’s the sparkplug for our team.
“He’s very entertaining, as is Kennedy. People talk about Kennedy as much as they do Gerbe,” added Dineen. “Tim’s a very intelligent player who has really good on-ice awareness. When he has the puck on his stick, he knows where everybody else is around him.”
Weinrich said Kennedy reminds him of former NHLer and University of North Dakota star Tony Hrkac.
“He’s so smooth and talented with the puck,” said Weinrich. “He makes his linemates better with his great vision and hockey sense.”
Dineen and Weinrich feel their Pirates will have to keep a close eye on Purcell.
“He’s their most talented player. He’s one of the 10 most skillful guys in our league,” said Weinrich.
“He’s a great player. He has an NHL future ahead of him. He just has to tighten up a few little things,” said Dineen.
Dineen and Weinrich are looking forward to bringing their team to Orono.
“It’s great. It’s such a neat atmosphere. They have an avid hockey fan base there and [Maine coach Tim Whitehead] was very generous with his facilities and really made us feel welcome,” said Dineen, who spent 18 years as a player in the NHL and is one of just eight with 300 or more goals (355) and at least 2,000 penalty minutes (2,229).
“It’ll be fun,” said Weinrich, who played in 1,157 NHL games.