ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine men’s hockey team had a home game postponed for what is believed to be the first time in the program’s history dating back to the 1977-78 season.
Saturday night’s exhibition game against defending Canadian national champion the University of New Brunswick was a victim of the weekend snowstorm, and Maine coach Tim Whitehead said the game will be made up on the night of either Jan. 19 or 20.
New Brunswick had intended to leave from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Saturday morning, but the decision was made early in the morning to postpone.
Former University of Maine athletic director and Hockey East commissioner Stu Haskell said he couldn’t recall a Maine home game ever being postponed.
“The biggest issue was safety, of course, not just for the teams but particularly for the fans,” said Whitehead. “That was the overriding factor.”
In addition, the Maine coach said, “It was also for the season ticket holders. We wanted to make sure they would have the opportunity to see the game. With these conditions, a lot of folks would have decided not to come.”
The lack of a lively atmosphere would be detrimental to New Brunswick, added Whitehead.
“One of the reasons they come down and play here is it gives their players a taste of a great atmosphere. New Brunswick has a great team and they’re in the national championships every year and this is one of the few opportunities they have to play in that type of atmosphere,” explained Whitehead.
The Maine players were disappointed but they understood the situation. They did have a practice Saturday night.
“The weather was obviously bad,” said sophomore left wing Spencer Abbott. “They’re a very good team, and they would have been a good test for us. They can definitely compete in our league [Hockey East]. But you don’t want anyone to get hurt. It’s a long drive.”
Maine senior right wing David deKastrozza added, “We definitely wanted to play today, but it’s also nice to get a little rest. We got back pretty late on New Year’s Eve [Thursday night].”
It would have been Maine’s third game in five days.
Maine beat Colorado College 3-2 in the championship game at the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla., on Wednesday night after Tuesday’s 6-6 tie with Princeton and 3-2 shootout win that sent them into the title game.
The Bears will play again Saturday night when they host Merrimack College for a Hockey East game.
“It will seem like a long time [between games], but this will be a good break for us. We did a lot of traveling last week,” said junior defenseman Josh Van Dyk.
“We’d rather have a game than practice, but we had a good up-tempo practice,” said freshman right wing Adam Shemansky.