Former National Hockey League defenseman Gaston Gingras played 476 games for the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.

His son, Sebastien, also a defenseman, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine beginning in the fall of 2011.

Gingras has 12 goals and 37 assists for 49 points in 50 games for the Brockville Braves of the Central (Ontario) Junior A Hockey League. He has 2 & 27 on the power play.

Gingras said the atmosphere at the Alfond Arena and the camaraderie in the locker room sold him on Maine.

“It was like a really big family. I loved the people there,” said Gingras. “The coaching staff was really respectful and there was a great mood in the locker room.

“They really seem to want to develop their players and that’s really important to me,” added Gingras, who chose Maine over Northeastern and Brown University.

He also likes the aggressive style of play exhibited by Maine.

“That really fits my style,” he said.

Brockville owner, general manager and coach Todd Gill, who played 1007 NHL games along the blue line, said Gingras is “very offensive-minded. He’s a great skater with a great shot and he’s only going to get better. He has great feet for a big man.”

Gill said Gingras has improved the defensive aspect of his game noticeably.

“That was the weakest part of his game but now he is very reliable defensively,” said Gill who added that Gingras is an outstanding person who is extremely coachable.

Gingras said Gill is the primary reason he came to Brockville and that he has spent a lot of beneficial time working with him on the defensive aspect of his game.

Gingras intends to get a personal trainer this summer.

“I want to get stronger so I won’t get beat physically in one-on-one battles,” said Gingras, who added that his father has been a positive influence on his career without pressuring him.

Gingras’ coming to Maine is contingent upon his admission to Maine and meeting NCAA requirements.

Maine baseball first in poll

The University of Maine’s baseball team has been chosen by the league’s coaches to win the America East championship in the preseason poll.

Maine received three first-place votes and 23 points in the poll. Stony Brook was second with two first-place votes and 21 points. They were followed by Binghamton (19 points), which received the other first-place vote, Albany (13), Hartford (9) and UMBC (5).

Maine was 32-23 last year and finished 13-11 in the conference, missing out on the America East playoffs.

The Black Bears return 12 letter-winners and have added 12 newcomers.

Heading up the list of returnees are senior co-captains Myckie Lugbauer (.321, 4 homers, 32 RBIs) and Tony Patane (.315-5-31) along with sophomore Ian Leisenheimer (.356-5-41) and pitchers Matt Jebb (7-3, 4.33 earned run average) and A.J. Bazdanes (3-1, 4.30).

Lugbauer and Patane were All-America East second team choices while Leisemheimer was a freshman All-American and a member of the AE All-Rookie Team. Bazdanes was also chosen to the All-Rookie Team.

“I think people realized we had a pretty good year last year and have a lot of guys back. Injuries were our Achilles heel. We have some pretty talented players and we also have a great recruiting class,” said fifth-year Maine coach Steve Trimper.

However, he also noted that preseason polls don’t mean anything.

Maine opens its season on Friday night when it visits Lamar University (Texas) for a three-game series.