ORONO — For the freshmen on the University of Maine men’s hockey team, the annual media day gives them their first exposure to people who will be covering them.
For one freshman, it also means becoming the unsuspecting victim of a prank.
That prank involves receiving a face full of shaving cream while being interviewed, similar to what happens to major league baseball players who are interviewed after a game in which they starred.
“I had no idea (it was coming),” said sophomore forward Carlos Amestoy, who was last year’s victim. “I didn’t have a clue.
“I knew it was shaving cream because it burned my eyes right away,” said Amestoy. “I’m thankful I didn’t try to eat it.
“I was being interviewed but I think the interview was just a setup,” grinned Amestoy.
The victim Thursday was defenseman Billy Norman from Stockholm, Sweden. The shaving cream was delivered by Nick Pryor.
“Except for the shaving cream in my eyes, media day was pretty fun,” said Norman, who took the prank in stride. “It was pretty cool. It’s a new thing.”
The Maine players and coaches enjoy themselves.
They pose for a team picture and several other pictures in smaller groups such as by class, former New Hampshire Junior Monarchs, and players from the same country, state or Canadian province.
Some are also in demand for interviews.
So what are some of the off-beat questions they have fielded?
“It was a question like do we have polar bears (in the streets) in Sweden or something like that,” said senior left wing Theo Andersson from Gothenburg, Sweden.
“How many penalty minutes are you going to get this year?” said junior right wing Joey Diamond, who had a team-high 130 minutes a year ago.
“I don’t think you have to ask me that question, I hope,” said senior left wing and co-captain Brian Flynn, who has amassed 30 penalty minutes in his entire 113-game career to date.
Junior defenseman Matt Mangene said he heard a crazy question last year.
“Someone asked ‘What do you take from (then-captain) Tanner House?’
“The person (being interviewed) said, ‘I like watching him brush his teeth.’ I thought that was pretty funny,”said Mangene.
Mangene said he usually gets the same question every year: “How are we going to finish this year? I always say the same thing: I think we’re going to finish as one of the top teams (in Hockey East) and that we’re going to surprise a few teams this year.”
Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said he was asked Thursday, “If we’re going to miss Gustav Nyquist.”
Whitehead laughed and said that would be like asking, “Do you like dessert?”
Nyquist is a former Hobey Baker Award finalist who led the Bears in scoring all three years and finished with 144 points (50 goals, 144 assists) in 113 games. He passed up his senior year to sign with the Detroit Red Wings.
Senior left wing Spencer Abbott was asked Thursday who scored the game-winning goal in the 1999 national championship game. Marcus Gustafsson scored in overtime as Maine beat archrival New Hampshire 3-2 in Anaheim, Calif.
“It took me a few seconds but I did figure it out,” said Abbott. “We had a trivia game. There were three forwards against three defensemen.”
“Personally, I don’t get asked too many questions,” said junior defenseman Mark Nemec. “I’m not the center of attention.”
“I have yet to be asked a question,” said sophomore center Jon Swavely with sophomore defenseman Brice O’Connor including himself on that list.
But Nemec enjoys media day.
“It makes you feel like it’s hockey season again,” said Nemec. “You get a lot of guys out here and there are a lot of people interested in what’s ahead for us in the upcoming season.”
Abbott said media day is fun.
“You have a couple of pranks and jokes and stuff like that. You have fun with the media. Things are a little less serious (than they are during the season),” Abbott said.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s a day off for us and we get a chance to rest our legs. It’s good for Maine hockey because it gives us some exposure,” sophomore left wing Mark Anthoine added.
Flynn likes it a lot more now than when he was a freshman.
“I was a little nervous my freshman year. I didn’t know what to say. It gets easier as you go along,” he said.
“It’s nice to get out here and see all the freshmen react to the cameras and the reporters and stuff,” said Diamond.
“The best part today is I get to sit right in front for the team picture,” said senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill. “It’s a big deal for me to sit next to (Flynn) and all of the other seniors.”
Freshman forward John Parker said media day was “exciting.”
Mangene added, “I like it. You get to meet everyone.”
Whitehead finds it to be a beneficial venture.
“It’s always great to bring attention to our team and to college hockey,” said Whitehead.
He noted that there was a large media contingent from the Lewiston area due partly to the “unfortunate demise” of the Lewiston Maineiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“Maybe we can lure some of the fans from Lewiston up here to see some great college hockey said Whitehead. “There’s a myth that you can’t find tickets to our games. You can always find tickets here and we’d love to see them come up and watch us.”
The Maineiacs folded after last season due to financial difficulties.