Howland native relishing role with Maine hockey team

UMaine goalie Josh Seeley (right) catches his breath as he watches teammate Mark Antoine take shots during practice Wednesday morning at Alfond Arena in Orono. Seeley, a fourth-string goalie from Howland, has enjoyed his time with the Black Bear hockey team and hopes to coach after graduation.
UMaine goalie Josh Seeley (right) catches his breath as he watches teammate Mark Antoine take shots during practice Wednesday morning at Alfond Arena in Orono. Seeley, a fourth-string goalie from Howland, has enjoyed his time with the Black Bear hockey team and hopes to coach after graduation.
Posted Jan. 21, 2011, at 5:31 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 21, 2011, at 11:12 p.m.

Two minutes, 40 seconds.

That is the official amount of time Josh Seeley has played between the pipes for the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

He came on in relief of Scott Darling in the third period of the third game of their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series at Boston University on March 15, 2009.

BU was leading 6-2 and was about to clinch the series.

Seeley, who was a freshman, came on and made two saves on the only two shots he faced.

“That was great,” said Seeley. “Their fans were still yelling at Darling when I came in. It was pretty interesting. I didn’t want to give up a goal on the first shot I faced because then they would have gotten on me.”

Seeley is a junior now and is the team’s fourth-string goalie.

But the Howland native is part of the team and he is proud of it.

For as long as he can remember, Seeley wanted to play for the Black Bears.

From an early age, his parents, James and Barbara Seeley, and uncle (Steve Clements) used to bring him to virtually all of the Black Bear home games.

He loved the rink and the atmosphere.

He began skating when he was “two or three” and started playing hockey when he was “four or five.” He played in the Old Town and Bangor youth hockey programs since Howland didn’t have one.

Initially, he was a skater, but he got to know former Maine goalies Blair Marsh and Greg Hirsch along with Garth Snow, so he started donning goalie pads.

Seeley played JV hockey at Bangor High as a freshman and also played bantam hockey. He lived with his older brother, Blaine Marston, who had a place in Bangor.

He played summer hockey at Hockey Night in Boston and talked to Kents Hill coach Kevin Potter, who expressed an interest in him, so he attended Kents Hill for two years.

He was the JV goalie his sophomore year and appeared in a few varsity games his junior year.

“It was pretty fun. I got to go to Slovakia,” said Seeley.

Financial constraints forced him to return to Bangor High School for his senior year where he earned Eastern Maine Class A all-star accolades.

After high school, he joined the Portland Junior Pirates and played for them for one year.

“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked,” said Seeley, who spent the next year earning all-star honors for the Maine Moose junior team.

“The following summer, (goalie) Ben Bishop announced he was going to leave Maine (a year early),” said Seeley. “Coach (Dan) Kerluke asked me to come and skate with the guys (current and former Black Bear players at the Maine summer camps).”

The Black Bears needed a third-string goalie to back up Darling and Dave Wilson, and Seeley was elated when Maine head coach Tim Whitehead and Kerluke offered him the chance to be the No. 3 goalie.

He was the No. 4 goalie a year ago until Darling was suspended at the end of the year and has the same role this season as he is behind Shawn Sirman, Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellette.

The No. 3 goalie gets to practice with the team regularly, but the No. 4 goalie doesn’t unless one of the other goalies is hurt or unavailable. The No. 3 goalie can dress for games and he can’t make road trips.

“I have goalie ice twice a week and I work out in the weight room,” explained Seeley, who works out by himself and with his teammates.

Goalie ice refers to practices involving just the goalies.

He participates in all of the dry-land training sessions and slaps on the pads for captain’s practices leading up to the first official practice with the coaches.

He doesn’t mind his limited participation during the season.

“I consider myself part of the team, even though I’m the fourth goalie. And the guys treat me like I’m part of the team,” said Seeley. “It’s a good feeling.”

“It’s pretty impressive, to be honest,” said Maine junior left wing Brian Flynn. “He comes and works out every day even though he doesn’t even get on the ice with us most of the time. We’re pretty grateful for what he does and what he brings to the table.”

Senior defenseman Mike Banwell said Seeley will do anything he can for the team. If players want to work on shooting after practice, Seeley is more than happy to throw on the equipment.

“He’s always eager to get on the ice, and you always want that from a goalie. He brings the team up,” said Banwell. “He is dedicated to this team. He’s a hometown guy, so this means a lot to him. He’s here at the start of practice and at the end of practice, so if a goalie goes down, he jumps at the opportunity to get on the ice.”

“He loves it here and he works hard every day,” said junior defenseman Will O’Neill.

“This is like my family away from home,” said the 22-year-old Seeley. “All of us are pretty close. Everybody gets along. It’s a special place.”

“I know what it was like as a little kid going into that locker room,” Seeley said. “To be in that locker room now (as a member of the team) is a great experience for me. Coming to Maine is a dream come true.”

He attends functions with the team and when he introduces himself to the fans and tells them he is from Maine, “I get a loud clap. It’s pretty interesting. I’m one of two kids from Maine on the team.”

Freshman right wing Mark Anthoine is from Lewiston.

The question Seeley gets asked frequently is why didn’t he go to another school, like a Division III college, where he could play regularly?

“I know I could have tried to go somewhere else, but I grew up around here and to even be part of the team is a big part of my life,” said Seeley, who is a Maine Scholar-Athlete Award winner.

He aspires to be a hockey coach and said he has learned a lot from the coaching staff and his teammates.

“This had been a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Seeley. “It’s going to help me out down the road.”

“He’ll be a great coach,” predicted Whitehead. “Most goalies make very good coaches because they have to know how to stop the puck and that’s what’s most important in the game. Defense wins games on a consistent basis.”

Whitehead has the utmost respect for Seeley and his role on the team.

“I continue to be impressed with his attitude, his focus and his athleticism,” said Whitehead, who noted that Seeley has improved dramatically. “The players and the coaches love him. He works extremely hard and has an unselfish attitude. He’ll do whatever it takes to help the team. He’ll stay out for an hour after practice taking one-timers and facing breakaways. It’s important to have team players you know you can count on, and Josh is one of those guys.”

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