ORONO — By his own admission, Shawn Sirman wasn’t in the physical condition he needed to be in when he stepped onto the Alfond Arena ice surface for the first time a year ago.
The freshman goaltender was expected to contend with returnees Scott Darling and Dave Wilson for playing time.
Darling won the job and, after the sophomore was suspended for the rest of the season prior to the regular-season ending series against Massachusetts, Sirman and senior Wilson battled for the right to start the playoff series against UMass Lowell.
Wilson won the job and led the Black Bears to the Hockey East championship game.
Darling and Wilson are gone, so Sirman headlines a list of four goalies vying for the No. 1 job. The list also includes junior Josh Seeley and freshmen Martin Ouellette and Dan Sullivan.
Sirman wound up playing in eight games last season, six of which he started, and he posted a 5.19 goals-against average and a .832 save percentage. He had a 1-6 record.
Sirman’s experience, though limited, gives him an edge according to Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
Seeley appeared in one game two years ago.
“That experience he (Sirman) gained last year, both positive and negative, put him in a stronger position than Josh and the freshmen to be able to run with it right away,” said Whitehead. “After last season, he really dedicated himself (to conditioning) over the spring and summer and came back in great condition this year.
“I think he’s going to have a real strong year for us,” added Whitehead. “I think the fans are going to be pleasantly surprised by his game.”
“I really learned last year that you have to be in shape and you’ve got to be ready when you come in here. I wasn’t in good shape last year and I wasn’t ready,” said Sirman. “I didn’t know what it took.
“Now I’m a lot stronger and I move a lot better,” added Sirman.
Whitehead and Sirman said one of the goalie’s most problematic areas was his inability to be in position to handle second and third shots after he would make the initial save.
“That’s what I really worked on over the summer,” said Sirman. “I worked on becoming more explosive (with his feet and legs) and pushing off (to position himself to make second and third saves). I put elastics between my legs and I also did a lot of work sliding (from side to side) on the slide-board.”
He said there is a major difference between making a second save in college hockey compared to Junior hockey.
“In Junior hockey, you’d have five milliseconds more time to get (into position). Here you don’t have that much time. You can’t afford to watch, you’ve got to react right away (after making the initial save).”
He also came in with a more determined mindset courtesy of Darling.
“Scott wanted to be the No. 1 goalie last year and he wanted it badly,” said Sirman. “I thought to myself this summer that I really want this. I want to be an elite goalie at the Division I level. That’s what I set my mind to. I was constantly thinking about it. I want to be the No. 1 but I know you’ve got to work for it.”
The 20-year-old Blezard Valley, Ontario, native said he lost “eight or nine pounds” over the summer along with a “lot of body fat.”
Sirman also knows what to expect from opposing teams since he got a chance to face every Hockey East team except Vermont, UMass Lowell and Northeastern.
And he is used to the school and his teammates.
“I feel a lot better coming in this year,” said Sirman. “It’s a lot easier when you know what to expect. You’re more confident. You know the guys in the locker room a lot better.”
He said he is really excited about Sunday’s exhibition opener against Acadia University (Nova Scotia) and about his Black Bear team.
“We were ranked seventh in the country (U.S. College Hockey On-line poll) and we really want to do well this year. There weren’t any expectations for us last year in the media and now there is and we want to fulfill them.”
Standbrook records double eagle
Former longtime UMaine hockey coach Grant Standbrook accomplished a rare feat Wednesday when he recorded a double eagle on the par-5 15th hole at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono. Standbrook knocked the ball in the hole on his second shot. The 15th hole is 458 yards.