Whitehead to get offer on contract

Posted March 25, 2010, at 11:44 p.m.

University of Maine men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead will be offered a contract extension by athletic director Blake James within the next few weeks, James said Thursday night.

Whitehead’s contract runs out at the end of next season. He makes in excess of $155,000 per year.

“I was very pleased with the performance of the hockey program this year,” said James. “Like anyone who watched our team, I see a lot of positives for the future of the program and I credit coach Whitehead and his staff for bringing it to this point.”

James wouldn’t speculate on the terms of the contract extension offer.

The 48-year-old Whitehead was happy about the news that he will be extended a contract offer.

“For me and the coaching staff, we are very pleased to know we have the full support of the administration as we continue our progress toward getting back to the elite level and competing for Hockey East and NCAA championships,” said Whitehead. “We’re excited that our student-athletes took a good step this year and we plan to take another one next year. We’re anxious to get started.”

Whitehead added that “my family and I are very happy here. My mother [Ellie Ferguson] was born and raised in Maine, I was an assistant here and I earned my master’s degree here. This is where we want to be.”

The Black Bears overachieved this season, finishing fourth in Hockey East after being selected to finish eighth in the league’s coaches’ preseason poll.

Maine eliminated a veteran UMass Lowell team in three games in their Hockey East quarterfinal series and ousted defending national champion Boston University 5-2 n the semifinals at the TD Garden in Boston before losing to Boston College, 7-6 in overtime, in the Hockey East championship game last Saturday night.

Maine, despite dealing with a lot of adversity like injuries to key personnel and the indefinite suspension of starting goalie Scott Darling right before the last regular season series, still wound up 19-17-3 after back-to-back 13-win seasons in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. The Bears were the fourth seed for the Hockey East playoffs and wound up 18th in the final U.S. College Online national poll.

It was their first top-four finish in the league since the 2005-2006 season.

The Black Bears had 12 freshmen and sophomores among the 19 players who appeared in the title game.

Boston College is currently ranked third in the nation.

However, Maine failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year after a string of nine consecutive appearances.

If everybody who is eligible to return does so, the Black Bears will retain 11 of their top 12 scorers, their entire defense corps, and either one or two of their goalies.

Whitehead is currently sporting a career record of 275-221-47 in 14 seasons behind the bench at UMass Lowell and Maine. He is a six-time finalist for the Spencer Penrose Trophy awarded to the national coach of the year. He won it in the 2001-2002 season when he led Maine to a berth in the NCAA championship game.

He is 199-126-36 in his nine seasons at Maine.

Nyquist earns another honor

Maine sophomore right winger Gustav Nyquist, who is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, has been named to the 2010 All-College Hockey News First Team. Earlier this week, Nyquist had been named to the CollegeHockey247.com’s All-America First Team.

Nyquist and Boston College senior defenseman Carl Sneep were the only Hockey East players named to the first team.

Nyquist was the lone unanimous selection to the All-Hockey East first team and was the runner-up to University of New Hampshire senior right winger Bobby Butler for Player of the Year.

Nyquist leads the nation in scoring with 61 points on 19 goals and 42 assists in 39 games.

He had seven goals and 20 assists on the Maine power play, which leads the nation with a 27.7 percent success rate. He also had four game-winners.

Nyquist’s 61 points were the most at Maine since Steve Kariya racked up 65 during the 1998-99 season and his 42 assists are tied for ninth most in a single season in Maine’s hockey history dating back to the 1977-78 season.

The Malmo, Sweden, native had points in 32 of Maine’s 39 games. He had 19 multiple-point games.

Maine field hockey team awarded

For the sixth straight year, the University of Maine field hockey team has been awarded the 2009 Gladiator National Academic Team Award.

It is awarded by the SGI/National Field Hockey Coaches Association for Division I.

This past season, there were 15 Maine players on the America East Academic Honor Roll for having at least a 3.0 grade point average. They also had 17 student-athletes receive Maine Scholar-Athlete awards for the 2009 season.

Junior midfielder Maire Dineen won the “M” Club Dean Smith Award, which is presented to the top male and female student-athlete.

The field hockey team went 12-7 this past season and advanced to the America East semifinals where it was beaten by eventual champ Boston University 5-2.

It also received votes for the NFHCA Top-20.

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