Dunham enjoys Olympic hockey

Posted Feb. 26, 2010, at 10:59 p.m.

Mike Dunham enjoys watching hockey at the Olympic Games and for good reason.

The former University of Maine All-American goaltender and current goaltending coach for the New York Islanders and their AHL counterparts, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, is a three-time Olympian.

“It’s always fun to watch. It certainly brings back memories of my younger days when I was thinner and in better shape,” quipped Dunham. “I was fortunate to be able to go to three Olympics.”

Dunham was a backup in 1992, shared the goaltending with former University of Maine tandem partner Garth Snow in the 1994 Olympics and shut out Finland 6-0 in their 2002 opener before Mike Richter played the rest of the games. The 2002 team won the silver medal.

“I still remember the first time. I was only 19 and a sophomore at Maine. It was a neat experience for me. It was eye-opening,” said Dunham, who didn’t get to play in the Olympic Games but did play in some exhibition games.

Dunham went on to have a 394-game NHL career for five teams and wound up posting a 141-178-5 record, a 2.74 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. He had 19 shutouts.

“It was a lot of fun. I always dreamed of playing in the NHL and I’m thankful for being able to do it that long and to play in so many games,” said the 37-year-old Dunham.

The 1992-93 NCAA championship season, in which the Black Bears went 42-1-2, will always be a cherished memory for him.

“Going into the season, we knew we were going to have a good team but we didn’t know how good,” said Dunham. “We didn’t know how good the freshmen were going to be.

“We had the Ferraro twins [Peter and Chris] and there was that guy [Paul] Kariya,” joked Dunham referring to the only freshman Hobey Baker Award winner. “After six or seven games, we knew we had something special here. [Coach Shawn Walsh] knew it, too, because he let a camera crew follow us the whole year. When you play 45 games and lose just one, that’s a phenomenal season.”

Dunham, who is married to WBZ-TV (Boston) news anchor Kate Merrill and is the father of two daughters, said he enjoys his job, which also entails scouting Islander draft choice goalies and future prospects.

His boss is Snow, the Islanders general manager.

Dunham lives in Concord, Mass., and keeps tabs on the Black Bears. He is pleased to see them rebounding from back-to-back 13-win seasons.

“It’s good to see. They seem to be getting back to where they belong. There’s a lot of history and a great tradition at Maine,” said Dunham.

He said goaltending has changed since Patrick Roy initiated the butterfly style.

“It’s amazing how it has evolved. Goalies nowadays move as well on their knees as we did on our skates,” said Dunham, who noted that the improved equipment allows them the flexibility to move on the knees. “It’s tough to beat them.”

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