Whitehead pleased with Maine’s exhibition win, sets sights on openers

Maine goalie Dan Sullivan (30) and teammate Mark Nemec (3) collide in front of the net after being pushed by Merrimack's Brandon Brodhag (12) during a game last season at Alfond Arena in Orono. The two teams will open Hockey East play Friday night in Orono.
AP File Photo
Maine goalie Dan Sullivan (30) and teammate Mark Nemec (3) collide in front of the net after being pushed by Merrimack's Brandon Brodhag (12) during a game last season at Alfond Arena in Orono. The two teams will open Hockey East play Friday night in Orono.
Posted Oct. 04, 2011, at 6:17 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 04, 2011, at 11:45 p.m.

University of Maine men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead has had plenty of time to view the videotape of his team’s 7-3 exhibition win over defending Canadian national champion New Brunswick on Sunday and he said he saw a lot of positives.

Now, after dissecting the pluses and minuses, the coaches are preparing the team for its Hockey East openers at home against Merrimack College on Friday 7 p.m. and Northeastern on Sunday at 1p.m.

“I liked our special teams and our goalies ( Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellette) played well,” said Whitehead. “Our special teams gave us the edge in the game. It was an even game 5-on-5.”

Maine went 3-for-10 on the power play while holding UNB without a power-play goal in six tries.

Two of the three power-play goals came on 5-on-3s and the first unit that produced the goals has players with plenty of power-play experience.

Senior co-captain Brian Flynn and juniors Joey Diamond and Adam Shemansky are the forwards with left wing and assistant captain Spencer Abbott manning one point with senior co-captain Will O’Neill at the other point.

“Our top players were our top players in the game and we need that,” said Whitehead.

Whitehead was also impressed with the freshmen. There were five first-year forwards and two defensemen.

“They all contributed in a positive way. They can all skate and they’ve picked up our systems very quickly. The captains did a great job (acclimating the freshmen) during captain’s practices,” said Whitehead.

Junior defenseman Matt Mangene, who received “six or seven stitches” in his wrist when he was cut by a UNB skate, should be ready for the weekend but Whitehead is unsure of junior center Kyle Beattie’s status.

Beattie has a lower-body injury and didn’t play against New Brunswick.

“We’d love to have him ready for the opener,” said Whitehead.

Beattie will be the team’s second-line center when he is 100 percent healthy, according to Whitehead.

“He will give us a lot more scoring potential,” said Whitehead.

Whitehead will keep his top line intact with Flynn making the move from left wing to center and being flanked by Abbott and Diamond.

He also intends to keep an all-freshman line of John Parker between LW Andrew Cerretani and RW Connor Leen together.

Spots on the other two lines are up for grabs.

Whitehead liked the top two defense tandems of O’Neill with Mangene and senior Ryan Hegarty with junior Mark Nemec. But the fifth and sixth defense spots are open with junior Mike Cornell, sophomore Brice O’Connor and freshmen Billy Norman and Jake Rutt vying for the spots along with Nick Pryor, who played left wing on Sunday.

Whitehead was pleased to see Shemansky and Pryor back in the lineup as both missed the second half of last season with concussions. Shemansky did play in the season-ending loss to Merrimack in their Hockey East quarterfinal series.

He anticipates giving both goalies playing time this weekend.

UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall said this Maine team is better than the one they last faced a couple of years ago.

“They’ve raised their compete level and skill level,” said MacDougall. “And their power play is good.”

UMAINE FIELD HOCKEY NO. 10

The UMaine field hockey team, which is riding an 11-game winning streak, has been ranked No. 10 in the country by both the National Field Hockey Coaches Association and WomensFieldHockey.Com polls.

Coach Josette Babineau’s Black Bears (11-1 overall, 1-0 America East) have achieved the highest national ranking in program history.

UMaine leads Division I in scoring, averaging 5.42 goals per game, and also is first in scoring margin (3.89), assists per game (3.92) and points per game (14.75).

Senior Kelly Newton is the nation’s No. 4 scorer with 3.08 points per game and leads the country while averaging 1.42 assists.

The Bears are preparing for Sunday’s 3 p.m. home game against No. 19 Boston University.

CANCER AWARENESS PROMOTED

The UMaine athletic department seeks community support during the next two weeks as it tries to promote awareness of cancers that primarily affect women.

UMaine’s soccer, field hockey and football teams will lead the charge for cancer awareness, specifically breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer.

Each team has designated a cancer awareness day as follows: Women’s soccer, Oct. 9 (noon) against Maryland Baltimore County; field hockey, Oct. 10 (noon) against Holy Cross; and football, Oct. 15 (1 p.m.) against Rhode Island on homecoming.

Fans who wish to do so also may contribute funds via the GoBlackBears.com website using the secure link to the American Cancer Society-New England located there at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/umaineathletics/timetofightback.

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