First-year University of Maine men’s hockey coach Red Gendron feels strongly about having his players receive input from a number of sources in addition to him and his coaching staff.
He also believes in unifying the program by making sure both alumni and fans have the opportunity to get involved. Gendron has embraced those groups and has spent countless hours drumming up interest for his team by mingling with the crowd before games and doing countless appearances across the state.
Over the past 10 days, he has invited former Black Bears Kent Salfi, Eric Weinrich and Claudio Scremin to address the team. Gary Conn, who starred on the first four Maine teams and finished with 221 career points, talked to the team earlier this season as did Peter Metcalf and Marcus Gustafsson.
“It’s great that the players get to hear a different voice,” said Gendron. “They talk to them about basically the same things we do, but it’s better if they don’t just hear it from me and the other coaches. It resonates a little bit more.”
One of the recurring themes echoed by the former Maine players, according to Gendron, is “how lucky they are to play at Maine.
”They told them what it means to play at Maine, how great it was and how grateful they were,” said Gendron.
Gendron has also had other influential speakers such as Maine football head coach Jack Cosgrove, who addressed the team earlier this week.
“It’s nice hearing different voices,” said Maine sophomore defenseman Ben Hutton. “They gave us little tips. Like coach Cosgrove talked to us about the three P’s (preparation, performance and perseverance).”
Freshman right wing Josh Henke said the former players “have been through it all” and offered valuable insight into what it means to play at Maine.
“Their input was really special and meant a lot to us,” said sophomore center Steven Swavely. “It’s truly motivating. We were fired up after listening to coach Cosgrove.”
“Hearing different stories and how people have fought through adversity was great to hear about. It gave us a different perspective on things. We took away lessons from them,” said freshman defenseman Eric Schurhamer. “They took time out from their schedules to talk to us and they always brought us positive advice.”
Maine entered the Providence series with the nation’s fifth-highest-scoring sophomore class.
Maine’s sophomores had combined for 118 points on 49 goals and 69 assists.
St. Cloud State’s sophomores led the way with 172 points followed by Colgate (154), Robert Morris (147) and Providence (140).
“We just go out every night and play as hard as we can and we’ve been fortunate enough to get some points,” said Hutton.
“That’s pretty cool but we try not to focus on each class. We focus on everybody doing their jobs and all of us doing whatever we can for the team,” Swavely said.
Mike Logan, who handled the play-by-play for the TV broadcasts of the Maine-Providence games for the Cox Network, attended Maine for two years. It coincided with the first two seasons Maine reached the NCAA tournament (1986-87, 87-88).
“In the 1987-88 season, Minnesota came to Maine and it was No. 1 against No. 2. People were standing three and four deep,” Logan said of a 6-4 Maine victory.
He also recalled people waiting for long periods on Tuesdays to get tickets for the upcoming weekend series. He also remembered Maine’s dramatic come-from-behind 5-4 victory over UMass Lowell in the 1986-87 Hockey East semifinal at Boston Garden which earned the Black Bears their first NCAA tourney berth.
Logan was encouraged by friend Roger Brown, who wrote for the Maine Campus newspaper, to pursue a sportscasting career so he transferred to Northeastern and received his broadcasting degree in 1991.
Logan, who is a teacher, wound up doing Northeastern hockey games with Don Orsillo, who is now the television play-by-play man for the Boston Red Sox. They also called Pawtucket Red Sox games together for several years.