Bangor High School goaltender Chris Howat, who was one of four finalists for the Travis Roy Award given to the state’s top senior hockey player, will be a reserve goaltender at the University of Maine this season.
He will replace another former Ram goalie, Howland native Josh Seeley, who served as the third- or fourth-string goalie at Maine for four seasons before graduating this past spring.
Seeley, a popular locker room presence, did appear in two games during his career and stopped all three shots he faced.
Howat held Bangor opponents to two goals or less in 13 of the Rams’ 18 regular season games this past season. The first team All-Eastern Maine Class A selection was 12-5 and had a .920 save percentage during the regular season.
Maine’s goaltending picture includes juniors Dan Sullivan and Martin Ouellette and incoming freshman Matt Morris. They are on athletic scholarships.
Howat is a walk-on who won’t receive any scholarship funds.
“Chris reminds me a lot of Josh Seeley at this point in his career,” said Maine head coach Tim Whitehead. “He has a lot of potential. He’s a tall (6-foot-4) lanky kid who needs to fill out and learn a bit more about how to train and about the technique of goaltending.
“He comes very highly recommended from his teachers as well as his coaches. They speak very highly of him as a person,” added Whitehead.
“It’s a smart move for us and an opportunity for him. We’re excited to have a local kid. Josh did a great job for us and if Chris can do what Josh did for us, that would be fabulous.”
Whitehead said they need three goalies for practices so the fourth goalie would fill in if one of the top three goalies is injured, has a class or needs a day off.
Whitehead said the third goalie is the one who often stays after practice to help their teammates work on their shooting.
The fourth goalie participates in dry-land training before the season “so he gets to know the other guys on the team” and he can also work out with the team off the ice or on his own during the season.
Howat said it is an “exciting” opportunity for him.
“I’m a local kid who has followed the team since we moved here when I was 7 or 8 years old,” said Howat, who also played tennis at Bangor High. “To be part of a Division I program with a long history will be a great experience. I’ll be able to study and still play hockey.”
“Chris is a very likeable guy. He’s level-headed and he should be able to fit right in,” said Bangor coach Denis Collins. “He’s a very good goalie with a good basic foundation. He has a lot of similarities to Josh Seeley. Maine can mold him into the way they want him.”
Howat has been accepted into the school and now must pass NCAA eligibility requirements.
Last season, Sullivan was a workhorse in leading the Black Bears to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2006-2007 season. He was 22-11-3 in 36 games with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Ouellette appeared in nine games, starting five of them, and he was 1-3 with a 3.42 GAA and a .871 save percentage. He is a seventh-round draft choice of the Columbus Blue Jackets (18th overall).
Morris played two seasons for former Black Bear captain and All-American Jim Montgomery Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League.