UMaine hockey team bonds while meeting challenge of climbing Mount Katahdin

Posted Sept. 17, 2010, at 4:38 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 18, 2010, at 4:14 p.m.

ORONO – University of Maine freshman goalie Dan Sullivan is used to facing blistering slap shots that can certainly cause their share of bruises.

But the York, Pa., native wasn’t used to climbing mountains. He said there aren’t a lot of mountains in York, Pa.

So when he and his teammates climbed Mount Katahdin last weekend, it was an eye-opening adventure.

“I was scared for my life a couple of times. But we got through it. It was a good experience,” said Sullivan, one of several players who negotiated Knife Edge with head coach Tim Whitehead and director of hockey operations Josh MacDonald from Millinocket.

Sullivan said the most difficult aspect of the climb was coming down the mountain.

“You were actually facing the mountain with your hands and legs fully extended. You were kind of hoping there would be a ledge or something there. You were just hanging there. There were no nets or support if you fell so you had to make every step count,” said Sullivan.

He also said he never anticipated a climb in which “we started at 5:30 in the morning and didn’t get back until 5:30 at night.”

But he said it was worth it.

“The view was unbelievable. It was pretty interesting to see how high up you were. We were right next to the clouds,” said Sullivan.

He also called it a valuable bonding experience.

“We definitely had to stick together. It was tough but it brought all of us together,” he added.

Freshman forward Jon Swavely from Reading, Pa. concurred.

“Team bonding is the big reason we did it,” said Swavely. “It was a fun time. We had to help each other get up the mountain. We had to stick with each other and not leave anybody behind.

“It was challenging. I had never experienced anything like it before,” he added. “It was much tougher than I thought it would be. It looked pretty scary from the bottom. It was tough on the ankles and knees, that’s for sure.”

Freshman forward Mark Anthoine from Lewiston had climbed Mount Katahdin twice before but had never done Knife Edge.

“Some of the guys thought it was going to be like a hike. I knew it was a climb and we’d have to deal with boulders and stuff,” said Anthoine. “It was exciting. It was kind of scary at the top but, other than that, it was rewarding. Reaching the top and getting to see everything was cool.”

Redshirt freshman center Kelen Corkum had climbed mountains in Arizona with his mother, Jess, and sister, Carley, before.

But this was different, he said.

“Two miles into it, I said ‘We’ve got to be at least halfway there now.’ And some of the guys said ‘No, we’ve got four more hours,” said Corkum. “When we got to [Chimney Pond] , we were around halfway and we looked up to see what we had to climb and you said ‘Whoa, this is the real deal.

“I just put my head down and climbed every rock. It was fun,” said Corkum. “It was definitely worth it. Just sharing that experience with the guys brought you closer together. There’s nothing better.”

He called the view from the top “beautiful. You could see everything pretty clear.

“It was a great experience. I’d definitely do it again,” he added.

Sophomore goalie Shawn Sirman, sophomore winger Adam Shemansky and freshman forward Carlos Amestoy were among several players who took another route instead of Knife Edge but still found it challenging.

“It is pretty gratifying after you complete it,” said Shemansky.

Sirman did Knife Edge last year.

“I took the easy way around this year and it wasn’t that bad. I thought it was a lot of fun,” said Sirman.

He noted that he was much more prepared this year.

“I didn’t bring enough water or food last year,” he said. “This year I did. And I was dressed properly.”

He said they were “sweating at the bottom and freezing at the top. The view was awesome but it was so cold and windy [at the top], we only stayed about half an hour before heading back down.”

He pointed out that it served as a great way to get to know his teammates, especially the freshmen.

“When you’re with your teammates for a whole day, you wind up talking and learning so much more about them,” said Sirman who has been impressed with the freshmen.

“They’re awesome. They’re real nice kids,” he said.

“It showed that the team can come together. It was nice,” said Amestoy, who is from Toronto.

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