The University of Maine men’s hockey program will be well represented when the puck drops on the National Hockey League season Wednesday night.
The cast includes three former Black Bears with the Dallas Stars, head coach Jim Montgomery and Ben Bishop, along with former All-American Devin Shore.
The players are among six former Black Bears on NHL rosters along with Carolina Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling, Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, Detroit right wing Gustav Nyquist and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton.
Shore, a 24-year-old center, is a former UMaine All-American and captain. He signed a two-year, $4.6 million contract with the Stars in the offseason after registering 11 goals and 21 assists in 82 games last season.
“He has been doing great. He’s going to have a bigger role this year and that will help him take the next step forward,” Bishop said.
Shore has 24 goals and 41 assists in 167 career NHL games.
Howard, who has a home on Green Lake in Dedham, will be beginning his 10th full season in the NHL. The 34-year-old is looking to rebound from a career-worst 2.85 goals-against average a year ago. He was 22-27-9 with a .910 save percentage.
Howard has played in 461 career games with a 221-151-63 record, a 2.49 GAA and a .915 save percentage.
His Red Wings teammate Nyquist posted his third 20-goal season in the NHL last winter, potting 21 goals and 19 assists in 82 games. He has 109 goals and 137 assists in 419 career contests.
Like Howard, Darling and Hutton are hoping to perform better after forgettable 2017-18 seasons.
After backing up Corey Crawford in Chicago, Darling, 29, had an opportunity to establish himself as the No. 1 goalie at Carolina last year. Instead, he floundered with a 13-21-7 record, a 3.18 GAA and a .888 save percentage and lost the job to veteran Cam Ward.
But Darling has turned in a sparkling 1.97 GAA during the preseason. He owns a career 52-38-16 record, a 2.67 GAA and a .910 save percentage.
Darling suffered a hamstring injury in the last preseason game and will be sidelined for a couple of weeks according to published reports.
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