ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage ushers in the men’s hockey season as Black Bear fans get their first opportunity to see the new players while re-acquainting themselves with the returnees and checking out their progress.
There were plenty of positives and some negatives Saturday evening as two freshmen, Kyle Solomon and Brian Flynn, each had a goal and assist while being teamed up with senior Chris Hahn in the Blue team’s 5-1 win in front of approximately 1,500 fans.
And sophomore Glenn Belmore, who had a goal and three assists in 27 games a year ago, gave an indication he is ready to become more involved in the offense with a pair of goals.
“It was a good Blue-White game,” said Belmore. “The tempo was up for most of the game… good hits … lots of smart plays.”
On a negative note, junior center Kevin Swallow, who transferred from Dartmouth College and sat out last year, suffered a high ankle sprain and had to be helped off the ice.
Belmore downplayed his two-goal evening, saying scoring is going to be a “group contribution” from all four lines.
“That’s how we’re going to generate our offense,” said Belmore.
Maine has lost its top six scorers and goalie Ben Bishop off last year’s team. None of the returnees scored more than six goals in 2007-2008.
Sophomore Keif Orsini had a goal and an assist; junior defenseman Brett Carriere had the other goal and sophomores Mike Banwell and Lem Randall had two assists apiece. Freshman defenseman Ryan Hegarty also had an assist.
Junior Dave Wilson and freshmen Scott Darling and Josh Seeley all saw duty between the pipes.
“For the most part, they played pretty hard and pretty smart. Both squads looked like they played as a team,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “The big area we have to improve on is our puck management. We had a lot of turnovers and, several times, they resulted in the puck winding up in our net or we took penalties.”
Solomon said there was a good chemistry on their line despite the fact they had only been together a “day or two” in captain’s practices.
“We clicked pretty well. We got the puck in deep, we played the body, got in some good hits and got shots on net. We were cycling the puck and communicating well,” said Solomon, who opened the scoring by tipping Banwell’s point shot under the pad of Wilson.
Flynn made it 2-0 when he spotted a loose puck off a Banwell rebound in a crowded goalmouth and shoveled it home. Also, Belmore tipped a Nick Payson pass under the crossbar; Orsini converted his own rebound off a steal and breakaway and, moments later, he fed Carriere for a point shot that squeezed through the pads of Seeley. Belmore capped the scoring by swatting home a rebound.
The play of the 12 newcomers was lauded by the veterans.
“There’s a lot of smart players [in that group]. It’s exciting to see them. They’re going to bring a lot to us this winter,” said senior defenseman and co-captain Simon Danis-Pepin.
Darling allowed just one goal and called his first exposure to Alfond Arena under game conditions “amazing.
“I was just happy to start off on the right foot in my first game at Alfond,” said the 6-foot-6 Darling.
The best hit of the night was thrown by Flynn, who crunched sophomore defenseman Jeff Dimmen.
Two 25-minute halves were followed by a shootout.