Hockey East notebook

Whitehead began thinking about top line combination in spring

Maine's Spencer Abbott (13) and Brian Flynn (10) celebrate their third period goal in front of the North Dakota bench and goalie Brad Eidsness (31) in Orono in October 2010
Maine's Spencer Abbott (13) and Brian Flynn (10) celebrate their third period goal in front of the North Dakota bench and goalie Brad Eidsness (31) in Orono in October 2010 Buy Photo
Posted March 16, 2012, at 8:55 p.m.

BOSTON — University of Maine men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead said the decision to put Spencer Abbott, Brian Flynn and Joey Diamond on a line together was hatched last spring.

That line became the first line since Maine’s national championship season in 1992-93 to have Hockey East’s top three point-producers in league play.

Paul Kariya, Jim Montgomery and Cal Ingraham finished one-two-three in scoring that season.

Abbott finished with 38 league points, Diamond had 37 including a league-high 20 goals, and Flynn wound up with 35.

“I had it in my mind in the spring and throughout the summer,” explained Whitehead before Maine’s Hockey East semifinal Friday night. “Spencer and Brian already had chemistry and I wanted to have someone with some toughness to go with them and that’s Joey.”

“They were OK early in the season. They had some good and bad games,” said Whitehead. “But then they developed into the top line in the country.”

Abbott and Flynn were Hockey East first-team selections and Diamond was a second-team pick.

Abbott, who leads the country in scoring, is one of 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists.

Flynn spent his first three seasons with Gustav Nyquist and Tanner House before they departed.

Diamond and Abbott had played together previously.

Garden enjoys Hockey East

Steve Nazro, the vice president in charge of events for the TD Garden, said the Hockey East Tournament remains a special event for them.

“It’s great for us. I love it,” said Nazro. “The college kids bring so much raw energy.

“Our employees really enjoy it and look forward to it. They love the competition and can identify the players,” said Nazro.

He said the event is a moneymaker and gives them a great opportunity to “sell hockey.”

“Hockey is really big here,” added Nazro, who said they will have six high school games on Sunday at the Garden.

The relationship between Hockey East and the Garden has a three-year shelf life and they keep extending it after each three-year cycle.

Nazro said one of the interesting aspects of the tournament is it gives them a chance to watch the maturation of players over the years.

“Ted Donato played here for Catholic Memorial, then he played for Harvard before playing for the [Boston] Bruins and then coaching Harvard,” said Nazro. “It’s the same for Bob Sweeney. He played for Acton-Boxboro, Boston College and then the Bruins.”

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