University of Maine athletic trainer Paul Culina worked his 500th Black Bear hockey game at UMass Lowell Friday night and will be honored for it at the 2014 Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers in Orlando, Fla.
Culina, who is also in his second year as the director of hockey operations, is in his 19th season at Maine and has been involved with several other sports, including being the primary football trainer for six years.
“I guess it’s a milestone for an athletic trainer. It goes to your longevity. It means you’re getting old,” quipped the 46-year-old Culina before the game.
He is a 1985 graduate of Auburn’s Edward Little High School, where he played hockey and soccer and was on the track team and in the band.
Culina played a couple years of hockey at Norwich University (Vt.), from which he graduated in 1991 and earned a master’s degree in 1993.
He began his athletic training career at Norwich and Bowdoin College before being hired by the late Wes Jordan at Maine in 1995.
“I had just gotten married and my wife, Krista, and I weren’t thinking long-term at that time. But things have been really good here. We really like the school and we love the town of Orono and everything that comes with it,” said Culina.
“The highlight would certainly be the national [hockey] championship in 1999. That’s at the top of the list. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many incredible athletes over the years and I’ve met some incredible colleagues within the university and in the hockey community and elsewhere,” added Culina. “I’ve certainly made a lot of great, lasting friendships in the athletic training world and medical world.”
Culina and Krista live in Orono and have three children.