UM’s Whitehead pleased with team’s ‘strength of schedule’

Posted May 28, 2009, at 10:34 p.m.

Michigan State University, which beat the University of Maine 4-2 in their 2007 Frozen Four semifinal and then beat Boston College in the national championship game, will open the Black Bears’ home schedule Oct. 16-17.

Maine released its 2009-10 schedule Thursday.

Maine opens with a two-game series at Union College (N.Y.) Oct. 9-10 before entertaining the Spartans the following weekend. Union went 19-17-3 last season including 3-1 and 5-1 losses to Maine in Orono.

Michigan State and Maine will both be eager to rebound from poor seasons as the Bears won just 13 games (13-22-4) for the second straight year while MSU went 10-23-5 a year ago after going 25-12-5 and reaching the NCAA quarterfinals.

Maine’s nonleague schedule also includes St. Lawrence (21-12-5) Nov. 29 in Portland; NCAA tournament team Princeton (22-12-1) Dec. 27 in the Florida College Classic and either Cornell (22-10-4 and an NCAA Tournament team) or Colorado College (16-12-10) in the consolation or championship game the next day.

The Bears will also host exhibition games against Canadian Universities national champion New Brunswick on Jan. 2 and the United States National Team Development Program’s Under-18 club on Jan. 23.

“Our strength of schedule will be good. It will be back to where we would like it to be,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “Hosting Michigan State will be a great way to kick off our home schedule.”

The Michigan State series will be on Homecoming Weekend. The Bear football team will host defending national champ Richmond at noon on Oct. 17.

Maine will again play each Hockey East opponent three times. The Bears will host Boston College, Providence, New Hampshire, UMass Lowell and UMass twice apiece and will entertain Vermont, Boston University, Merrimack and Northeastern for one game.

Whitehead said the most positive change in their schedule is a reduction in Sunday games from seven last season to two this coming season.

They played six Hockey East games on Sunday but will have just one this season as they will play Friday-Saturday nights.

“We’ve been pushing Hockey East to [reduce our Sunday games] and we’re very appreciative to the league for changing it,” said Whitehead. “It’s a big plus for our fans. They won’t have a day in between games. It makes it a more convenient and predictable situation for them.

“It will make a big difference to our student-athletes because they will have a true day off without classes. It’s also good for the coaching staff and support staff,” added Whitehead.

He likes the fact they won’t be competing with the NFL on TV.

Maine has an afternoon Blue-White instrasquad game on Oct. 3.

lmahoney@bangordailynews.net

990-8231

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