Mike Latendresse is looking forward to a new challenge.
After dividing his time as the head boys hockey coach at Oakland’s Messalonskee High School and a volunteer assistant with the Colby College men’s team last season, he will be a full-time assistant at Colby this season.
He resigned after 12 years at Messalonskee after leading the Eagles to a 21-0 season and their first state Class B championship last winter.
He has been replaced by former Skowhegan High School coach and Messalonskee player Joseph Hague.
The 43-year-old Latendresse, who co-owns Joseph’s Sporting Goods in Waterville with David Winkin, said coaching at Colby last year under Blaise MacDonald “re-energized me as a coach. It was a great start.”
“I’m really excited. This is a phenomenal opportunity to coach with Blaise and (assistant Chris Hall). I’m grateful to Blaise and the college. I enjoy coaching players at that level,” said Latendresse, a former University of Maine star who played for the 1992-93 NCAA championship team.
“Being there full time this year will enable me to be consistent in the message I want to send and in providing input. I’ll have a greater impact on the team and on the players. I’ll have a better feel for the team and what goes on on a daily basis.”
Last season, Latendresse was only able to go to two road games and couldn’t make all of the practices because of his coaching responsibilities at Messalonskee. Now he will be at all of them.
He noted that even in his limited role, MacDonald “gave me a lot of responsibilities and trusted me right away to work with the forwards and the special teams. The trust he had in me made me feel good and was a great start to our relationship.”
“He has such passion for the game and he has a great analytical mind,” said MacDonald. “He does a great job on the bench and that allows me to step back and get a longer view of the game which I really enjoy.”
Latendresse and MacDonald said they have similar philosophies.
“We have similar thoughts and ways to play the game,” said Latendresse, who eventually would like to be a head coach at the college or Major Junior level.
“We’re on the same page,” concurred MacDonald, former head coach at UMass Lowell. “Yet we’re different in enough ways where we can have a healthy give and take.
“Any time you get somebody from the University of Maine’s hockey program, you know you’re getting somebody who has a really good head for the game. That is a huge benefit for our guys,” added MacDonald. “He’s a phenomenal young coach and has all the makings of a head coach.”
He said Latendresse had the good fortune to play for the late Shawn Walsh and assistants Grant Standbrook and Red Gendron. Gendron is now Maine’s head coach.
Latendresse led Messalonskee to a 57-7 record over his final three years and three EM Class B titles in addition to last year’s state crown courtesy of a 6-1 win over Gorham.
“I had a great time at Messalonskee but it was the right time to move on,” said Latendresse, who has two daughters, Colette and Kassidy, with wife Anne.
Colby begins practice on Nov. 1.
UMaine 5th in America East poll
The University of Maine women’s basketball team has been picked to finish fifth in the America East Conference preseason coaches poll announced Wednesday.
Defending champion Albany received eight first-place votes and 64 points in the sampling, followed by Stony Brook (51 points), along with New Hampshire (46, one first-place vote) and Hartford (46). Behind UMaine were Maryland Baltimore County (24), UMass Lowell and Vermont (21 points each) and Binghamton (8).
Black Bears junior Liz Wood was among five players recognized on the Preseason All-Conference Team.
The 5-foot-10 guard/forward averaged 12.6 points last season while leading the team in rebounding (6.7 per game) and steals (2.1). Wood also shot 43.7 percent from the field and converted 74.3 percent of her free throws.
Wood is joined on the preseason squad by Shereesha Richards of Albany, Sabre Proctor of Stony Brook, Shannon Samuels of UMass Lowell and New Hampshire’s Corinne Coia.
The Black Bears return four starters and 10 letter winners off the ballclub that finished 17-15 overall and fourth in the league with a 10-6 America East mark last winter. The 17 victories were the most for the program since it tallied 20 during 2004-05.
Maine opens its season with a Nov. 1 exhibition game against McGill University at Memorial Gym in Orono.