University of Maine men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead is excited about having Notre Dame join Hockey East beginning with the 2013-2014 season.
“It’s great to play Notre Dame in any sport,” said Whitehead, who considers it a positive move for the conference.
He noted Notre Dame has a storied tradition in several sports and has become one of the nation’s best hockey programs in recent years while also moving into a new facility this season.
Notre Dame will be the league’s 11th team so it is likely that instead of playing each other three times like they do now, teams will play each other twice.
A team is allowed to play 34 games and Hockey East teams play 27 league games so that gives them just seven nonconference games to schedule.
If they don’t add a 12th team and play each other twice, that will leave them with 20 league games and 14 non-conference games.
Whitehead acknowledged scheduling nonleague games could pose a financial challenge for the program, especially airfare, but said, “it goes with the territory. We have two years to sort it out and, hopefully, the university will adapt and put it in the budget.”
There are a number of teams in the ECAC and Atlantic Hockey that are close enough to bus to but Whitehead would also like to mix in some of the top-level programs.
The new Big Ten Conference will have just six teams so it will be looking for nonconference games and the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference will have eight teams so it will also be looking for games.
Maine has played home-and-home series with several of the elite teams in college hockey including two at home with North Dakota last season and two in Grand Forks, N.D., next weekend.
HUSSON DEBUTS NEW LIGHTS
Husson University’s men’s soccer team will play its first-ever game under its new lights at Boucher Field in Bangor on Saturday at 7 when the Eagles entertain New England College (N.H.).
Former Husson soccer star John Boucher, after whom the field is named, donated $350,000 for the lights and a press box.
Husson athletic director Bob Reasso said the press box is up but there was a delay getting the glass for it so they hope to have it completed by their Oct. 19 game against UMaine-Farmington.
Reasso said the lights will be a valuable addition to the school.
The field is used by the men’s and women’s soccer teams and, in the spring, both lacrosse teams use it.
“We feel very lucky to have such a dedicated alum as John,” said Reasso. “It was a wonderful donation.”
Reasso said the lights will reduce the amount of class time missed by the players and provide the students and the community with an opportunity to see night games.
He said it will give local high schools like Bangor High and John Bapst of Bangor an opportunity to play games when their fields are wet and unplayable.
“We have a wonderful relationship with both of those schools,” said Reasso, whose son Bobby plays at Bangor.
The Eagles enter the game with a 6-4-1 record but they have won their last three games, all via shutouts.
BEARS HOST BU SUNDAY
The 10th-ranked UMaine field hockey team hosts America East rival Boston University, ranked 19th, on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“It should be an exciting game,” said Maine coach Josette Babineau, who pointed out that both teams play an aggressive, attack-oriented style.
Maine is 11-1 overall, 1-0 in America East, and has won 11 in a row including a 4-3 overtime win over Albany.
Babineau had never beaten Albany in her previous four tries.
Maine is averaging 5.4 goals per game, the most in the country, behind seniors Kelly Newton (10 goals, 18 assists), Stephanie Gardiner (12 & 6) and Jocelyn Mitchell (8 & 3) along with sophomore Alexa Binnendijk (9 & 1).
BU, 6-5 and 1-0, has allowed just 13 goals in 11 games.