Center Tanner House will captain the University of Maine’s Black Bear hockey team next season and defenseman Jeff Dimmen will be the assistant captain. Both will be juniors.
But sophomore forwards Lem Randall, Keif Orsini and Glenn Belmore have been released from the team, according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
“It’s always disappointing when you have to let a player go from a team, particularly in this case because these are three great kids with bright futures,” said Whitehead. “Lem is an outstanding student and the other two have improved academically each year. However, as a coaching staff, we felt this was in the best interest of the team.
“We’re very determined to bring Maine back to the national level and we felt this was a move that would help us,” added Whitehead, whose Bears went 13-22-4 after posting a 13-18-3 mark two years ago. “When we lost [Ben] Bishop, [Teddy] Purcell and [Andrew] Sweetland early [to the pros], that put a lot of pressure on the rest of the players to elevate their games quickly and it was difficult for everybody to make that jump.”
Whitehead said he will honor the partial scholarships given to Randall, Orsini and Belmore if they want to return to Maine and earn their degrees.
If they transfer to a Division I school, they will have to sit out a year as mandated by NCAA transfer rules. But they will retain two years of eligibility. If they transfer to a Division III school, they can play immediately.
If they transfer to a Canadian university, they will have three years of eligibility according to Whitehead.
Maine will lose just two forwards to graduation, Chris Hahn and Jeff Marshall, and Maine is bringing in five forwards in Joey Diamond, Adam Shemansky, Kelen Corkum, Matt Mangene and Robin Bergman.
Randall, the team’s most physical player who occasionally brought the fans to their feet with thundering checks, had four goals and five assists in 32 games although he didn’t have a point in his last 10 games. He had a goal and an assist in 23 games a year ago. He also had 52 penalty minutes this season and some came at inopportune times which drew the ire of the coaching staff.
Orsini had three goals and four assists in 27 games after having 3 & 2 in 29 games a year ago. He had one goal and no assists in his last 12 games and was in and out of the lineup throughout the year as he battled inconsistency.
Belmore had an assist in just 10 games after having a goal and three assists in 27 games a year ago. He suffered a severe knee injury in an exhibition game against New Brunswick on Oct. 10 and missed six games. He had to play in a knee brace.
Whitehead is excited about the choices of captain and assistant captain.
“I’m very pleased. They’ll do a great job leading the team next year,” said Whitehead. “Tanner is a little more vocal but Jeff has been a great leader on and off the ice and they’ll be a great complement to each other.
“They’re certainly two of our best players, two of our hardest workers, two of our best students and two of our best people,” said Whitehead.
House was the team’s third leading scorer with 10 & 14 in 39 games and Dimmen had 6 & 9 from the blue line in 37 games.