Pro hockey has been a lesson in frustration for former University of Maine two-time All-American center Michel Leveille.
But he’s hoping some home cooking can jumpstart his career as Leveille, former Black Bear linemate Teddy Purcell and their Manchester Monarchs face-off against the Portland Pirates in an American Hockey League game at the Alfond Arena tonight at 7.
The Monarchs are the top minor league team of the Los Angeles Kings while Portland switched affiliations from Anaheim to Buffalo in the off-season.
Leveille is 14th on Maine’s all-time scoring list with 149 points (53 goals, 96 assists) in 153 games but saw limited playing time with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL a year ago, tallying nine goals and three assists in 41 games. He was a healthy scratch several times.
He has six assists in 17 games for Manchester this season.
“It’ll definitely be exciting to get back there….where it all kind of started,” said the 27-year-old Leveille. “Hopefully, I’ll get my first goal. That would be great. I’m just going to play hard and try to have fun with it.”
Leveille will be skating on the fourth line for the Monarchs and, as was the case a year ago, he doesn’t know how much ice time he’ll receive.
“Sometimes, you’ll get two or three shifts a game. Or you might get 10 to 12 shifts at the most,” said the 27-year-old Leveille. “I’m not getting the ice time I’d like to have but it’s pro hockey and you have to manage what you get.”
Leveille said he is enjoying his time with the Monarchs more than he did with the Marlies.
“We’ve got a good group of guys and being closer to friends and family definitely helps,” said Leveille.
Purcell, on the other hand, is Manchester’s leading scorer with 9 & 10 in 22 games.
“He’s been playing great,” said Leveille. “I’m surprised he’s still down here [and not in the NHL]. He’s very, very skilled with the puck. He also has NHL speed.”
Purcell, a former Hockey East Rookie of the Year, was the AHL’s Rookie of the Year last season when he racked up 25 goals and 58 assists in 67 games. He also played 10 games for the Kings, collecting a goal and two assists.
Purcell had a pair of goals and an assist as Manchester beat Portland 6-2 in front of 3587 at Alfond last season.
Each team has a former Black Bear All-American on the coaching staff as Hobey Baker Award winner Scott Pellerin is an assistant with the Monarchs and defenseman Eric Weinrich is an assistant in Portland.
There will be several other former college players familiar to Maine fans.
For the Monarchs, former Boston College star Brian Boyle is back with the Monarchs after playing for the Kings; goaltender Jon Quick from UMass has been sharing the goaltending and Gabe Gauthier scored the game-winner for Denver in its 1-0 victory over Maine in the NCAA title game in 2004.
For the Pirates, defenseman Mike Kostka was Quick’s teammate at UMass and defenseman Chris Butler played for Denver. Former BC Hobey Baker Award finalist Nathan Gerbe was called up by the Buffalo Sabres last week.
Former University of Maine women’s basketball 1,000-point scorer and recently crowned Miss Maine USA Ashley Underwood of Benton will drop the ceremonial first puck and sign autographs in the first intermission.