ORONO, Maine — Lewiston’s Mark Anthoine had a respectable freshman season for the University of Maine men’s hockey team last year.
He didn’t rack up many points (one goal, three assists) but was an effective grinder who played in 33 games, the most of any UMaine freshman.
He has taken on a more prominent role this season, killing penalties and even getting some power-play time in addition to taking a regular shift.
He snapped a 26-game goal drought with a power-play goal in a 4-3 loss to UMass Lowell on Nov. 12 and followed that up with another power-play goal in a 2-2 tie at Massachusetts six nights later.
He will take that goal-scoring streak into Saturday night’s game against Clarkson at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland.
“I love the way he’s playing,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “I don’t think he has been on the ice for [an even-strength] goal-against for four or five games and has only given up one scoring chance in each of those games. He has been physical. He has been one of our most consistent hitters, and he gets to the net.”
Anthoine has been on the ice for just one opposing even-strength goal over the last six games.
“I feel a little bit more confident this year [because] Coach [Whitehead] trusts me to go out there and do the little things to get the job done,” said Anthoine. “At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t embracing my role. I talked to Coach [Bob] Corkum and asked him what I should be doing, and he told me I needed to focus on the little things like getting pucks in and out [of the offensive and defensive zones, respectively], finishing every check and moving my feet.”
“A lot of good positives have come from that,” added Anthoine. “The little things make a big difference in the game.”
At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Anthoine is one of the Bears’ biggest forwards, so supplying a physical presence is essential.
“That’s something I’m expected to do, and I enjoy doing it,” said Anthoine.
He also likes killing penalties and feels he has improved at it.
“I didn’t do it as much last year, but I have a lot more knowledge about it this year,” said Anthoine. “I’ve been working with the coaches and trying to get into [shooting and passing] lanes. I’m not the quickest guy out there, but if you can get in the right lanes, it’s helpful.”
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in him,” said Maine senior defenseman Ryan Hegarty. “He has an all-out better understanding of the game. He’s more comfortable and he’s making more plays. He’s learning that he’s strong and he’s driving to the net, which creates a lot of chances.”
“He stays after practice to work on his game,” said senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill. “He’s rugged, he can hold guys off and he’s strong on his feet. He has been a big asset.”
Anthoine wants to become a consistent performer and hopes to add more offense to his game.
Maine is in need of supplemental scoring to take the pressure off the top line of Brian Flynn, Spencer Abbott and Joey Diamond.
“I want to bring more to the table. I was very offensive in junior hockey. Here, I’m willing to take on a defensive role, but I want to start picking up some scoring,” said Anthoine, who enjoys playing in Portland and will have lots of friends and family members in attendance.