ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s men’s hockey coaching staff has begun addressing a need for size up front by receiving verbal commitments from two good-sized forwards.
And one of them has a unique tie to the university.
South Portland’s Lucas Michaud is the grandson of former Black Bear two-time Little All-American linebacker John Huard. Michaud plays for both Berwick Academy and the Portland Junior Pirates’ Under-18 team.
Huard is in the University of Maine and Maine Sports halls of fame. The former Denver Broncos linebacker had his No. 32 jersey retired at UMaine, where he is a member of the football Ring of Honor.
The second recruit is Joe Widmar from Northbrook, Ill., who is playing for the Connecticut Oilers of the Eastern Hockey League. He spent last season with the Chicago Steel and Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League, where he had five goals and nine assists in 54 games.
The 18-year-old Widmar is expected to attend Maine next fall while Michaud, who is 16, won’t be coming to Maine until 2015 or 2016.
Widmar is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds while Michaud is 6-0, 183 pounds.
Both are scholarship players.
Just four of Maine’s 12 forwards in last weekend’s sweep of UMass were at least six feet and none was over 6-1.
“Joe has all the tools to be a top-end Division I player,” said Oilers coach and general manager Eric Lind, who played 151 games at the University of New Hampshire including the 1998-99 NCAA championship game against Maine in Anaheim won by the Black Bears 3-2 in overtime.
“He sees the ice very well. He’s unbelievable on the wall. He’s very hard to knock off the puck. He’s very strong. And he has a great shot,” said Lind, who was an assistant coach at Yale with Maine head coach Red Gendron.
Widmar, a center who can also play wing, has seven goals and nine assists through the Oilers’ first 11 games.
Widmar said he visited Maine during its 2-1 win over Bentley (Mass.) on Oct. 19 and was impressed.
“I liked the new coaching staff. They are there to win hockey games and to get (the program) better. And they have a good group of guys on the team who made me feel right at home,” said Widmar.
Right winger Michaud, according to Portland Junior Pirates general manager Brad Church, is a “pro-style player.
“He’s a big, strong forward who skates well. He has a very high work ethic and compete level,” Church said. “He drives the net and he goes through people, not around them.
“He brings some sandpaper (toughness) to his game,” Church added. “And he’s a great kid.”
Michaud had 14 goals and 10 assists in 27 games at Berwick Academy last season after collecting six goals and three assists in 20 games the previous year. He is a junior this season.
“It’s an honor to play for my state university, especially since my grandfather and mom (Kim Huard Michaud) both went there,” Michaud said. “It’s a good community and I really like the coaching staff. They all have good backgrounds and I feel they can get me to the next level.”
Members of the Maine coaching staff aren’t allowed to comment on the recruits due to NCAA guidelines. The players’ participation at Maine is dependent upon being accepted into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.