ORONO, Maine — Ben Hutton, a point-producing 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman for the Kemptville (Ontario) 73’s of the Central Canada Hockey League, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on a scholarship beginning next fall.
Hutton, who plays in all situations, is the team’s No. 2 scorer with seven goals and 19 assists in 30 games. He leads the team in assists and in power-play points with 12 on four goals and eight assists.
He was one of just five CCHL players chosen to play for silver medal-winning Team Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge in British Columbia earlier this season.
In three seasons with the 73’s, he has amassed 31 goals, 64 assists and only 59 penalty minutes in 151 games.
“He’s the best defenseman in our league, by far. He’s like a man among boys out there,” said Kemptville coach and general manager Pat Malloy. “He oozes with pro potential. His skill level is so high.”
“He’s big and his puck skills and hands are off the charts,” added Malloy. “He’s a one-man forecheck breaker, he has a good shot and he’s an above-average skater. He plays 35 minutes a game and plays important minutes against the other team’s top line.”
Malloy said Hutton, who is the team captain, is also a first-class individual.
“He’s a straight arrow from a good family who will do anything to win and will do anything for the team,” said Malloy. “He’s a dream to coach.”
Hutton said he visited as many schools as he could, including Notre Dame and Bowling Green, but felt most comfortable at Maine.
“And if you’re going to go somewhere for four years, you want to feel comfortable,” said the 18-year-old Hutton. “It was a tough decision, but I’m pretty sure I made the right one.”
“I really enjoyed my visit. It’s a nice campus. I stayed with the guys and they were real nice. And I really liked the atmosphere at the rink,” Hutton added.
Hutton will have a legitimate shot to play immediately because the Black Bears will graduate two of its top defensemen in Will O’Neill and Ryan Hegarty. Three others will be seniors next year (Mike Cornell, Mark Nemec and Nick Pryor).
“That also played a big factor,” said Hutton. “Everybody wants to play [immediately].”
The Prescott, Ontario, native said he intends to work on his strength and his speed in preparation for next season.
“Everyone keeps telling me the biggest difference is the speed [so I’ve got to get faster],” said Hutton.
His coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.
Fenway alumni game Thursday
University of Maine associate head hockey coach Bob Corkum said he is looking forward to playing in the Maine-New Hampshire alumni hockey game at Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday night.
“It’ll be a good time to see old familiar faces, and any time you can play UNH, it’s a good thing,” said Corkum, a former standout winger for the Black Bears who went on to have an impressive 12-year, 720-game NHL career. “It’s going to be a great event. To play in a historic park like Fenway Park doesn’t happen every day.”
Corkum said there are 34 Black Bears who are confirmed to play in the game, which will cost each player $250. The money also will pay for a pregame skate and a reception after the game, and the players will get to keep their jerseys, socks and the shell for their pants, he said.
Jack Semler, head coach for the first seven Black Bear teams beginning in the 1977-78 season, will coach the team.
He said the game will be divided into two 25-minute halves with the players who played before 1999 squaring off in one half and those who played after 1999 playing the other half.
He said some of the other Black Bears expected to play include twins Peter and Chris Ferraro, Mike Morrison, Peter Maher, Ray Jacques, Dave Wensley, Mike Golden and possibly Eric Weinrich.
The current Maine and UNH teams will square off at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7 after the game between Massachusetts and Vermont.