ORONO, Maine — University of Maine men’s hockey senior forward Joey Diamond has spent more than 430 minutes in the penalty box in his three-plus years in Orono. Those 437 minutes are equivalent to more than seven games Diamond has spent in the penalty box.
Yet, what may better represent Diamond aren’t those hundreds of minutes spent in the penalty box, but rather the five days he spent recently in his hometown of Long Beach, N.Y., one of the main coastline towns that got ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
A born and bred New Yorker, Diamond grew up in Long Beach, spending his days at the famed boardwalk that stretched along the Atlantic Coast. Those same coastlines left roads in Long Beach covered in sand and decimated the boardwalk.
“They were hit pretty hard. There was a lot of damage — it was pretty devastating, actually,” Diamond said. “They started the removal of our boardwalk. I had a lot of memories growing up there. It’s something that we’ll get through. There are a lot of people hurt.”
Diamond got to go home for the first time since the storm over the holidays, spending five days with family and friends. Other than traditional holiday gatherings, the senior forward for the Black Bears spent the majority of his time doing what everyone else in Long Beach has been doing for the last two months: clean up.
“My house got hit. Not as bad as others, but our basement got hit pretty bad,” Diamond said. “Friends [got hit] too. Everybody has the same feeling. I know there was a lot of people just walking around, seeing if anyone needed help.”
Diamond was in Orono when news broke of the storm. As badly as he wanted to go home, commitments to his last year both as a UMaine undergrad and hockey player made it far too difficult to travel home. Finally going back, Diamond said, was jarring.
“It’s always home, but it was devastating going back, seeing everything,” he said. “You see pictures, but going home and seeing peoples houses, what they’re going through now. Your heart goes out to everyone. When I went home, some parts looked cleaned up while others still looked like a war zone.”
Despite the work done in his community, if you ask the common college hockey fan about Diamond, the descriptions of a hothead or a dirty player come to mind. Often in sports, the impressions seen during the game are associated with that person — for good or for bad. Some might see it as unfair, but it doesn’t bother Diamond.
“I think it’s completely fair. That’s what people see,” he said. “Probably only the guys in my locker room and on the coaching staff know how I really am away from the rink. That’s fine by me.”
One of the few people who really knows Diamond is UMaine men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead. While most college scouts and coaches watched Diamond in the Ontario Junior Hockey League racking up penalty minutes — 213 in 45 games — Whitehead focused on Diamond’s production: 42 goals, 34 assists in 45 games.
“That’s probably why other teams passed on him,” Whitehead said. “But I love Joey, always have from the moment I saw him play in Ontario when he was a youngster. I knew he was a true Black Bear.”