ORONO, Maine — There isn’t much versatile junior Matt Mangene hasn’t done this season for the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team.
He has been a defenseman, a right winger on the top scoring line, as well as on a shutdown checking line, he has killed penalties as a defenseman and as a forward and he has played on the power play.
He leads the team in game-winning goals with four and is tied for second with eight power-play goals. His is fourth in points (26) and in goals (13).
He has scored nine goals in his last eight games and has a five-game goal-scoring streak entering this weekend’s two-game series against visiting UMass.
You’ll never hear him complain about his different roles.
“I like it a lot,” said Mangene. “Every day is a different day for me at the rink. I do something different and learn something different every day.
“It’s part of being a hockey player. I’ve done it my whole life,” said the native of Miller Place, N.Y.
“I’ve never played with someone who can do so much for a team,” said sophomore left wing Mark Anthoine, Mangene’s current linemate along with freshman center Stu Higgins. “He’s good offensively and defensively, he’s a great skater and his hands are coming around. Just look at his goal-scoring this year.”
Mangene entered the year having scored four goals in 65 games along with 17 assists.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Mangene said he has become more confident in his goal scoring ability but he is also quick to credit his linemates “for setting me up.
“And I’ve been bearing down on my chances,” he said.
When Joey Diamond missed the Alabama-Huntsville series with a badly bruised hip, Mangene was elevated to the top line with Brian Flynn and Spencer Abbott and responded with two goals and an assist.
Mangene said it is his responsibility to adapt to his linemates.
On that line, he said it is up to him to “get the puck in their hands as much as possible. It’s the same on the power play. They’re playmakers. I knew they were going to give me the puck for scoring opportunities so I had to [be ready to] shoot the puck.”
Flynn said Mangene has been a “big part” of the team’s success thanks to his versatility.
“He’s probably the best skater in the league. He can fly and he never gets tired. Coach [Tim Whitehead] can use him all the time and he’s effective all the time,” said Flynn.
Anthoine called Mangene “a machine” and, after spending the summer working out with him in Saco, he said Mangene is ”the hardest worker I know.”
Whitehead called Mangene a “special player” and said he has become “an elite player in this league.
“You can put him on the other team’s top player but he can put points on the board as well,” said Whitehead.
Bears donate to soldiers
The University of Maine men’s hockey team has donated $500 to Operation Community Support so Maine National Guard soldiers and their families can attend Saturday night’s game. Several of the soldiers will soon be deployed.
They will be honored between the second and third periods.
“We love having them here,” said Anthoine. “If it wasn’t for them [defending our country] and their families, we couldn’t do what we do.”
“We owe everything to them. The most selfless thing someone can do is go to war. We’re so appreciative,” said Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill.
Between periods of the game, the National Guard bureau will make a presentation to the university in appreciation of all the university’s efforts in support of the troops. Former Maine Gov. John Baldacci will be on hand to take part in the presentation.