ORONO, Maine — It may seem odd to hear about a hockey player sustaining an injury while walking on ice and snow since they spend a healthy portion of their time on ice.
But that is exactly what happened to University of Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Simon Danis-Pepin.
He was walking to his friend’s wedding in a Quebec village last month when it happened.
“It was ridiculous. It’s all packed snow in the village and I slipped on one foot and tried to stabilize myself with the other foot. I fell back and planted that foot,” said Danis-Pepin, who suffered a sprained left ankle.
He has missed the last three games and the Bears have gone 0-2-1 while allowing an uncharacteristic 11 goals.
But Danis-Pepin will return to the lineup Saturday night when the Bears visit No. 2-ranked Boston University at Harry Agganis Arena.
“My ankle feels really good. [Trainer Paul Culina] just tapes it up,” said the 6-foot-7 Danis-Pepin. “Paul did a good job with the treatments to make sure I got back as fast as possible.”
Danis-Pepin skated for the third time on Thursday and has done of lot of conditioning on the stationary bike.
He had five assists in 16 games with all of them coming on the power play. He plays in all situations and has been a vital cog in their penalty-killing, which has been slumping without him. He is particularly important killing off five-on-threes with his long reach.
Maine has allowed five power-play goals (two on five-on-threes) in 18 chances since he has been sidelined (72.2 percent efficiency rate).
Prior to his absence, the Bears were killing them off at a 91.2 percent success rate.
Will he be in game shape when he returns?
“I’ve been surprised how good I’ve felt [at practice],” said Danis-Pepin, one of just two Bears with more than 100 career games (113) under his belt. “I’ve felt really good. I did a couple of sprints the other day and my legs felt real good. My cardio is good right now.”
Danis-Pepin’s return will be extremely important, according to Maine head coach Tim Whitehead and his teammates.
“His return will be huge,” said senior right wing and co-captain Jeff Marshall. “He and [senior] Matt Duffy have been our stalwarts back there. Duffy did a great job the past few weeks.
“But [Danis-Pepin] is one of our captains and we definitely missed him back there no matter how well the guys filled in.”
“The big thing is he does such a good job on the penalty-kill,” said senior center Chris Hahn. “Penalty-killing hasn’t been the way it was the first part of the season and a huge part [of improving it] is getting him back.”
In addition to his play, Whitehead called him a “great young leader.”
Maine piles up football honors
Four University of Maine football players have earned All-America honors from several media agencies.
Senior defensive end Jovan Belcher, redshirt freshman running back and tight end Jared Turcotte of Lewiston, senior tailback Jhamal Fluellen, and senior offensive lineman Ryan Canary were the honorees.
Belcher earned his fifth All-American selection, this one from the College Sporting News, making him the Colonial Athletic Assocation’s only consensus All-American selection. Turcotte, who is an All-American honorable mention pick, is one of two CAA rookies to attain that status.
Fluellen, who had three straight 100-yard games and was ranked among the league leaders despite missing nearly half the season to injury, and Canary, who anchored a line that helped Maine finish third in the CAA in rushing, were also both College Sporting News All-American honorable mention picks.
The recent honors give UMaine a total of 35 All-Americans in program history. It’s the first time since 2004 that multiple Black Bear players achieved that status.
Maine volleyball nets recruits
University of Maine volleyball coach Lynn Atherley received official commitments from five recruits Thursday.
The incoming recruit class consists of Jamie Duffy from Manhattan Beach, Calif.; Johanna Ovsenek of London, Ontario; Casey Whitehead of North Kingstown, R.I.; Tony Michalski of Munster, Ind.; and Kaitlyn Jasnica of Romeoville, Ill.
Duffy is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter who led her team to state and national championships as a junior. Ovsenek is a 5-11 middle blocker who earned team MVP honors three straight seasons at Saunders Secondary. Whitehead is a 6-2 middle blocker who led her Smash 18 club to a New England Regional 18 Open Gold Tournament title. Michalski is a 6-1 outside hitter who was an all-conference and all-area pick the last three years and a team MVP this past season. Jasnica is a 6-foot outside hitter who led her Sports Performance club team to a No. 5 finish at the 2007 Nationals and 2008 AAU Tournament.