The battle for the No. 1 goaltending job at the University of Maine has been re-opened.
Freshman Dan Sullivan started the last seven games and held opponents to two goals in each of the first five starts. But he surrendered seven goals on 40 shots in the Black Bears’ 4-0 and 4-1 losses to Boston College two weekends ago.
So Maine coach Tim Whitehead said he isn’t sure who will play this weekend when the Black Bears visit Providence for a two-game set.
“It’s wide open,” said Whitehead. “We’ll be looking (hard) at all three guys this week. We feel we have three great options.”
Sullivan is 4-3-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage.
Sophomore Shawn Sirman, who stopped all six shots he faced in a mop-up role encompassing 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the first game at BC, is 2-0-1 with a 2.55 GAA and a .906 save percentage. He hasn’t started since Maine’s 7-3 win over North Dakota on Oct. 22.
Freshman Martin Ouellette, slowed at the outset of the season by an ankle injury, hasn’t played since making 16 saves in a 3-3 overtime tie with Connecticut on Oct. 9.
“I would like to get some game experience for (Ouellette),” said Whitehead.
Ouellette said he is ready to play if he gets the nod this weekend.
“My ankle is fine right now,” said Ouellette. “I’ve been working hard in practice and have been staying after practice (for extra work). We’ve been working on a lot of technical stuff in practice. It’s been good. It keeps me ready to go.”
The Maine players agree with Whitehead’s goalie assessment.
“They’re all really good goalies. They’ve proven themselves to me, anyway,” said junior left wing Spencer Abbott. “They’re battling hard and whoever has the best week of practice will get the start.”
Senior center and captain Tanner House said the competition is healthy and that “they’ve all looked good in practice.”
“They all do things a little bit differently, but they’re all strong goaltenders and we have confidence in all of them,” said House.
Junior left wing Brian Flynn added, “It’ll be interesting to see which one of them rises up in practice. It wouldn’t surprise me if any three of them gets the nod.”
Flynn looks to break out
Flynn has gone six games without a goal, his longest stretch since his freshman year. He has had three assists in the six games.
He hopes to break out this weekend at Providence.
Flynn said he has struggled with slow starts “my whole life.”
“I don’t know what it is,” said Flynn. “I’m trying not to lose my confidence. I still have my confidence. I might not be putting a lot of points up, but I’ve been contributing in other ways. I feel I’ve been playing well. I’m just going to focus on that (playing well) and, by the end of the year, the points will take care of themselves.”
Flynn has four goals and four assists in 12 games. He is one of the Bears’ penalty-killing forwards and plays on the power play.
He had 19 goals and 28 assists in 39 games last year and 12 goals and 13 assists in 38 games as a freshman.
Buttles selected to All-Star team
University of Maine football tight end Derek Buttles was selected to the New England Football Writers FCS All-Star Team.
Buttles, a junior from Pike, N.Y., was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association second team after playing in all 11 games this season and making 27 catches for 291 yards. He also made agame-tying touchdown grab against No. 14 New Hampshire, a game Maine went on to win in overtime.
He was one of eight juniors selected.
UMaine names baseball captains
The University of Maine baseball team selected Matt Jebb, Taylor Lewis, Joey Martin and Joe Miller as captains for the 2011 season.
Jebb, a senior pitcher, will serve as captain for the second straight year. He played in 15 games last year with 11 starts, compiling a 3-3 record with a 5.14 ERA in 70 innings pitched.
Lewis, a junior center fielder, will serve as captain for the first time. He was one of three Black Bears to start all 56 games last year, and he led the team with a .369 batting average. He scored 53 runs and had 52 RBIs. He hit 14 doubles and five home runs to go along with 21 stolen bases, and set a school record for triples in a season with 13, breaking the mark of eight set in 1932.
Martin, a senior first baseman, will serve as captain for the second straight year. He played in 54 games last year and collected 15 doubles, three home runs and 46 RBIs. He batted .332 and scored 42 runs.
Miller, a senior pitcher, is a first-time captain. He played in four games last spring while working his way back from an injury that also sidelined him for the majority of the 2009 season.