ORONO, Maine— The University of Maine’s men’s hockey team was the third smallest team among the 59 Division I hockey institutions last season.
Just four of Maine’s 15 forwards were six feet tall or taller.
But in hockey coach Red Gendron’s seven-member recruiting class announced on Monday, there are three forwards who are at least 6-foot-1 and the Bears will also gain the services of 6-foot-2 transfer Andrew Tegeler, who had to sit out last year after coming to Maine from UMass.
In addition, Maine has two incoming defensemen who are 6-2 and 6-3 and a goalie who is 6-1.
The incoming players are defensemen. Malcolm Hayes and Mark Hamilton; forwards Cedric Lacroix, Jack Musil, Nolan Vesey and Liam Pecararo and goalie Sean Romeo.
“It’s a really important class. I’m excited about it,” said Gendron. “We had to address the size issue and we did so without giving up speed and skill. [Assistants] Ben Guite and Jay Leach did an excellent job forming this class.
“They have landed forwards that we believe will generate offense for us while improving our ability to be more effective near the enemy net. On defense, Ben and Jay have found us size, toughness, and skill. Added to that mix is a very talented young goalkeeper and we have the makings of a class that will improve our team in both the short term and long term,” he added. “Some could figure prominently this season.”
Maine went 16-15-4 a year ago in Gendron’s first season but the Black Bears struggled down the stretch, winning just one (1-5-1) of their final seven games.
“The kids on last year’s team worked their tails off. But we didn’t get the job done down the stretch,” said Gendron. “I’m not sure if size was a factor in that but we’ve addressed that and we won’t be able to say that it was a factor this coming year. We will be more than big enough.”
Hayes is a 6-2, 220 pound defenseman from Atlanta. He played for Cushing Academy last season, scoring six goals and adding eight assists for 14 points.
“Malcolm Hayes provides our team tremendous size, explosive power, and a significant offensive upside,” said Gendron.
Hamilton is a 6-3, 220 pound defenseman from Winthrop, Massachusetts . He played last season for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League. In 24 games, he tallied three goals and added a pair of assists from the blueline.
“Mark Hamilton brings to our defense corps size, strength, and an enormous compete level,” said Gendron. “His game is efficient if not flashy.”
Lacroix is a 6-1, 180 pound forward from Shefford, Quebec. He played for the Sioux City Musketeers last season where he tallied eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in 54 games.
“Cedric Lacroix is big, physical, and plays with an edge,” said Gendron. “He will not be pleasant to play against.”
Musil is a 6-1, 180 pound forward from Hull, England. He scored an impressive 101 points on 47 goals and 54 assists last season in 51 games with the New England Wolves.
“Jack Musil’s greatest attributes are stick skill and hockey sense,” Gendron said. “He combines this with a burning desire to become a great player.”
Pecararo is a 5-11, 164 pound forward from Canton, Massachusetts. He notched 20 goals and added 41 assists for 61 points last season for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League.
“Liam Pecararo was one of the top forwards in the USHL last season,” said Gendron. “He has exceptional speed to go along with very good play making ability and the ability to finish.”
Vesey is a 6-2, 210 pound forward who was recently drafted in the sixth round, 158th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs. A native of North Reading, Massachusetts, he scored 26 goals and added 40 assists for 66 points last season for the South Shore Kings.
“Nolan Vesey combines good size along with excellent sense and scoring ability,” said Gendron. “He has shown himself to be very good around the net.”
Romeo is a 6-1, 165 pound goalie from Cary, North Carolina. He played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL last season and posted a 3.42 goals against average and a .891 save percentage in 30 games.
“Sean Romeo is very athletic and has enjoyed good success in the USHL,” said Gendron. “He will compete with Matt Morris and Nik Nugnes for the number one starter’s spot on our team.”
Morris was a medical redshirt last year after having off-season hip surgery and Nugnes came to Maine in the second semester and practiced with the team but didn’t appear in a game. Morris played in six games as a freshman two years ago.
The freshmen will be on campus on July 27 and will begin taking summer classes the next day.
The eligibility of all student-athletes is contingent upon admission to the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.