ORONO, Maine — Joey Diamond is a surfer from Long Beach.
Long Beach, New York. Not Long Beach, California.
“I literally grew up a two-minute walk from the beach. All of my friends surfed, so I grew up surfing,” explained Diamond.
Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn are roommates and avid golfers who also enjoy table tennis.
Diamond, Abbott and Flynn are also linemates for the University of Maine men’s hockey team and the top three scorers in Hockey East, both overall and in league play.
They are believed to be the first three linemates to lead the conference in scoring since Paul Kariya, Jim Montgomery and Cal Ingraham did so during Maine’s 1992-93 NCAA championship season.
“It’s a real honor to be put in that category with those three players,” said Diamond, a junior who is the right wing on the line. “They obviously had unbelievable careers at Maine and went on to have professional careers.”
Abbott, who hails from Hamilton, Ontario, and Flynn, a native of Lynnfield, Mass., are seniors. Abbott is the left wing and Flynn has made the transition to center after being the left wing on a line with Tanner House and Gustav Nyquist for the better part of three seasons.
Abbott has 19 goals and 37 assists for 56 points in 34 games, which also leads the nation. He has 15-23-38 in 27 Hockey East games. Flynn has 17-28-45 in 34 games and Diamond has 22-19-41 in 31 games. Diamond is actually second in scoring in Hockey East games with 20-17-37 and Flynn is third with 12-23-35.
Diamond’s 20 league goals are tops.
“I never saw this coming,” admitted Abbott. “I knew we’d be good. I knew we’d be up there in scoring. But not one-two-three. That’s pretty special.”
“They all skate well and they really understand the game well,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Their hockey IQ is outstanding. They make plays and put themselves in position to make plays. They’re fun to watch. They’re one of the top lines we’ve played against over the years.”
“That’s as good a line as there is in the country,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy, whose Warriors will face them in their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series beginning Friday in Orono. “Abbott is having a special year, Diamond has 20 goals in 27 league games and Flynn has put up [good] numbers every year.”
Flynn said they developed chemistry immediately.
“That makes it a lot easier,” said Flynn. “It’s tough if you don’t feel comfortable with your linemates or you don’t have chemistry.”
“We’ve been pretty consistent throughout the year and that’s big,” added Flynn. “We all bring something different to the line. Joey is a gritty guy who finishes a lot of checks; hopefully I can play both ends of the ice pretty well and [Abbott] is really dynamic offensively.”
In comparing Diamond and Abbott to former linemates House and Nyquist, Flynn said, “Joey brings more physical play and a little more goal scoring. Spencer is similar to [Nyquist] in that they’re both dynamic.”
“They’re three great players with a lot of experience who play real well together,” said New Hampshire senior right wing Steve Moses.
“I don’t remember a more dominant line since I’ve been in college,” said Maine senior defenseman and co-captain Will O’Neill.
They have been key ingredients in the nation’s top-ranked power play (27.8 percent) and they also kill penalties.
They lead the team in plus-minus as Flynn is at plus-23, Abbott at plus-17 and Diamond at plus-12. Players are given a plus-one if they are on the ice when their team scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal and a minus one if the opponent scores one.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said they are highly motivated players who are driven to succeed.
“It’s remarkable how consistent they’ve been,” said Whitehead. “They’re the heart and soul of our team. I’m really proud of them.”
Flynn is 12th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 153 points in 146 games and Abbott is tied for 22nd with 140 in 145.
Their personalities differ.
Flynn and Abbott are quiet, and Diamond, according to Flynn, is “definitely more outgoing.”
Flynn and roommate/teammate Mark Nemec do most of the cooking and Abbott cleans up.
“They’re pretty good cooks. I don’t mind living with them at all,” grinned Abbott.
They all like to stay busy.
“We always have to be doing something,” said Flynn, referring primarily to golf, table tennis and basketball.
“We like to be active,” agreed Abbott who added that they also will play video games.
Diamond enjoys watching movies in addition to surfing and also plays video games and table tennis.
“And I like to try to golf,” he said, smiling.
They communicate well on and off the ice.
“We all know how to push each other’s buttons to get each other going,” said Diamond. “They’re great at doing that to me, and I think I do a pretty good job getting them going as well.”
The players know how important this weekend’s series is.
“It’s pretty cool that we’re one-two-three in scoring in Hockey East, but it won’t mean anything if we can’t take the team anywhere,” said Abbott.