The University of Maine men’s hockey team has received verbal commitments from a pair of linemates who play for the Boston Advantage Under-16 Midget/Minor hockey team.
Fifteen-year-old center Ryan Cloonan and 14-year-old left winger Liam Pecararo will attend Maine. Cloonan, who is from East Longmeadow, Mass., is expected to begin his career at Maine in 2013 while Pecararo, who hails from Canton, Mass., will come to Maine the year after.
They are currently sharing the team scoring lead with 25 points apiece in 25 games. The 5-foot-6, 135-pound Cloonan has 8 goals and 17 assists while Pecararo, who is 5-8 1/2, 147 pounds, has notched 6 & 19.
Pecararo is the youngest player to ever verbally commit to Maine.
The Midget-Minor team is for Under-16s and they will also see some duty for the Midget/Major (Under-18) team.
Former Black Bear center Tim Lovell, the owner and general manager of the Boston Advantage, said both players will be impact freshmen at Maine.
“Both are very good,” said Lovell. “They fit the skill level at Maine. They’re small and quick, they see the ice well and they can make plays. They’re very good skaters and good puck-handlers.”
He said Cloonan is a crafty, top-notch center while Pecararo can play all three forward positions and is considered among the “top five players in his age group in the country. He’s dynamic.”
Cloonan and Pecararo chose Maine over several other Division I schools, including Hockey East schools.
They visited Orono together for the Bears’ sweep of North Dakota last month.
“The atmosphere up there is insane,” said Cloonan, who commutes two hours one way to practice and play for the Advantage. “It was awesome.”
Cloonan added that the coaches and players were “nice” and he felt “comfortable” in Orono.
Pecararo said he enjoyed everything about it including the atmosphere at the Alfond Arena.
“I liked the coaches and how professional they were,” said Pecararo. “I loved the campus. I fell in love with it.”
Before they come to Maine, they must be admitted to the school and must meet NCAA eligibility requirements.
Due to NCAA guidelines, Maine coach Tim Whitehead couldn’t comment on the players.
However, he said obtaining verbal commitments from players who are two or more years away from attending college is a necessity these days because other schools have been doing it for years and will continue to.
“It gives you an opportunity to get an elite player you might not otherwise get,” said Whitehead.