Mike Mantenuto accomplished a lot in his 35 years of life.
The former University of Maine hockey player was found dead last week in a parking lot at a Washington state park. The Kings County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
He was a married father of two.
According to a report on TMZ, Mantenuto’s father, Joseph, said his son may have been haunted by his experiences in Iraq and Syria.
“Something happened over there. He saw something,” Joseph Mantenuto said.
Mantenuto became an actor, starring in the 2004 movie “Miracle” that chronicled the 1980 United States hockey team’s remarkable run to the gold medal at the Lake Placid Olympics.
He eventually left the profession to become a Green Beret serving with the Army’s 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Three of his former UMaine teammates, Mike Morrison, Peter Metcalf and Dan Kerluke, said Mantenuto was well-liked. They were saddened by the news of his death.
“I had fond memories of him,” said Kerluke. “He was a great kid and a real good teammate.”
“He was very popular,” said Metcalf. “He was full of life. He was a typical Boston guy. He loved to joke around.”
“We always had a lot of Boston guys on the team and we enjoyed the commotion they would bring to the rink,” chuckled Kerluke. “They would always be poking fun at you in a good way. It was fun.”
Morrison, who stayed in contact with Mantenuto, said he had that “Boston confidence” in a good way and also had a “goofiness” that enabled him to make fun of himself as well as his teammates.
Morrison also called him fearless and said he was a “risk-taker.”
“He was a good friend. He would always touch base,” said Morrison who noted that he and former UMaine teammate Todd Jackson, who had been Mantenuto’s roommate, spent a month and half living in California near Mantenuto when he was making the ‘Surfer, Dude’ movie and it was a memorable time.
The native of Holliston, Massachusetts, played 14 games at UMaine during the 2000-2001 season. He scored two goals before transferring to UMass Boston the next year where he played one season before pursuing an acting career.
He was cast as Boston University defenseman Jack O’Callahan in the movie “Miracle,” which starred Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks.
He also landing supporting roles in the 2006 TV movie “Dirtbags” with Melissa Joan Hart and the 2008 feature movie “Surfer Dude” with Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson.
He joined the ranks of the 1st Special Forces Unit in 2013 and, at the time of his death, he was a staff sergeant in field radio communications.
According to the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Massachusetts, Mantenuto was deployed in 2016 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a multi-national campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
A spokesman for the unit, Sgt. First Class Dan Balda, told the MetroWest Daily News that Mantenuto was a “valued teammate. Everyone speaks highly of him here.”
In a Facebook post, 1st Special Forces Group Commander Guillaume Beaurpere wrote, “Those of you who knew Mike will remember him for his passionate love for his family and his commitment to the health of the force.”
Mantenuto was a decorated soldier. He earned the Army Commendation Medal, three Army Achievement Medals, three Good Conduct Medals and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
O’Callahan was a feisty defenseman and Mantenuto possessed that quality, according to Metcalf and Kerluke.
“That was a good role for him. He portrayed him pretty well,” said Metcalf.
“He was a very hard worker and he was feisty. He wasn’t fun to play against in practice,” said Kerluke. “He was always trying to make the lineup. He wasn’t a big guy but he was a great skater.”
Kerluke said Mantenuto did a spectacular job portraying O’Callahan.
“Mike was a hockey guy. What better guy to get than someone who has been through the process,” said Kerluke.
To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.