ORONO, Maine — Bill Norman has become Mr. Versatility for the University of Maine’s men’s hockey team.
The sophomore has played both forward and defense for the Black Bears this season as he has in the past when he has also played center.
He has played in seven of Maine’s 13 games, including the last six. He has played four at left wing and three on defense.
He has a goal and three assists and his four points already matches his point total over 26 games a year ago when he had two goals and two assists.
That has given Maine coach Red Gendron the luxury of being able to use him at either spot during the course of game if the Black Bears suffer an injury, lose a player to a game misconduct or disqualification or have a player who is underperforming.
Norman and the Black Bears will look to continue their winning ways at home at 4 p.m. Sunday when they entertain UMass Lowell, the nation’s seventh-ranked team in the current USCHO poll. Norman missed his first practice of the season Friday with an undisclosed illness, but is expected to play on Sunday.
Maine is 6-1 at Alfond Arena while the streaking River Hawks are 6-1 on the road including noteworthy wins at Michigan, Michigan State and New Hampshire.
Maine is 6-6-1 overall, 3-2-1 in Hockey East, while the River Hawks are 11-4 and 4-1, respectively. UMass Lowell has won six in a row.
“I don’t really care where I play. It’s just fun to play,” said Norman, a native of Stockholm, Sweden, who had been a forward for most of his career.
He said each position requires a different style of play.
“At forward, it’s a lot of hard skating and forechecking. You’re working hard all the time. You want to win pucks and be the first one on the puck,” said Norman. “On defense, you do more thinking.
“You need to know who is behind you and who is in front of you. There isn’t as much hard skating but there’s more thinking,” added Norman, who has also see occasional power-play duty.
“It’s great having a guy who can play up front or in the back like he can,” said junior left wing Connor Leen. “It’s important for any team to have someone like that.”
“He works hard and he’s a great kid,” said Gendron.
Maine will look to avenge its losses to the River Hawks in the Hockey East quarterfinals. UMass Lowell, which won the regular season and Hockey East tournament titles, swept Maine 4-2 and 2-1 in overtime.
UMass Lowell coach Norm Bazin said his River Hawks will be challenged by the Black Bears.
“Maine has an excellent goaltender [Martin Ouellette], they’re deep and they play awfully hard,” he said.