A new but very familiar face will grace the opponents’ bench when head coach Tim Whitehead’s University of Maine men’s hockey team hosts UMass Lowell and first-year head coach Norm Bazin this weekend.
Game times at Alfond Arena in Orono are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.
When he was an assistant at UMass Lowell, Whitehead coached Bazin, a hardworking right winger, for three seasons. He liked what he saw.
After Whitehead succeeded Bruce Crowder as the head coach at UMass Lowell and he was looking to put together his coaching staff, Bazin came to mind.
“His character and work ethic were exceptional for a young man that age. I had a good gut feeling he’d be a great coach,” said Whitehead.
So he hired Bazin as his No. 2 assistant. Mark Taylor was his top assistant.
Bazin was working as a lumber broker after just finishing up his playing career at UMass Lowell.
“I hadn’t really thought about coaching,” said Bazin. “But (Whitehead) was in the market for a coach and I knew what kind of quality person he was.”
He spent four years at UMass Lowell before moving on to Colorado College, where he spent eight years as an assistant and the recruiting coordinator.
In 2008, he nabbed his first head coaching job at Division III Hamilton College, Whitehead’s alma mater.
He is now back at UMass Lowell as the head coach.
“He is very deserving of this opportunity,” said Whitehead. “After spending 10 years at Lowell, I got to know the alums pretty well and I know they were all very excited he got this opportunity.
“I know he’ll do a great job. He did an excellent job for me. He was a great recruiter.”
“Tim and Mark were tremendous mentors in terms of recruiting and learning the business the right way,” said Bazin. “Working for (Whitehead) was certainly a big advantage. When you start out in a business, you need to have some good quality people around you. “
Bazin said he learned a lot from Whitehead.
“What I got from him was a great attention to detail. And he was very strong when it came to analyzing the game and his own players,” said Bazin.
Whitehead said he put in a good word for Bazin when he applied for the job at Hamilton, where Bazin went 38-31-7 and was the New England Small College Athletic Conference coach of the year in his last two seasons.
“He made me look good,” said Whitehead.
They have remained good friends and are looking forward to renewing acquaintances this weekend.
“I’ve coached against a lot of guys I coached with before like (the late) Shawn Walsh, Bruce Crowder and Red Gendron,” said Whitehead. “It’s always great to see a good friend of yours move up the ranks. This will be a lot of fun.”
Bazin said he always enjoyed playing at Alfond Arena.
“It’s a great hockey atmosphere. It’s one of the top 10 college atmospheres in the country,” said Bazin. “I know how daunting it is to play in Orono. This will be a true test. We’re going to have to be ready to play from the first minute.”