ORONO, Maine — Chase Pearson has made a distinct impression in his short time with the University of Maine men’s hockey team.
The sophomore center, who was selected as a team captain along with senior defenseman Mark Hamilton, leads the Black Bears into their season-opening Hockey East series against the University of Connecticut.
Games are Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m.
Senior center Cedric Lacroix and junior defenseman Rob Michel are the alternate captains.
“It came as a shock to me,” admitted Pearson. “I didn’t expect to get this role this early in my career. I’m very honored and humbled by this selection.”
“If there is someone who can be and should be a captain as a sophomore, it’s Chase,” said freshman defenseman Patrick Holway. “It is well-deserved. He’s a very mature kid and his leadership is outstanding.”
Like the 20-year-old Pearson, Hamilton was honored to receive his captaincy.
“It’s nice to be able to lead this group of guys. We have a lot of good leaders on this team, whether they are captains or not. And being able to wear the letter (C) is obviously a pretty good honor,” said Hamilton.
“Mark battles on the ice and is well-respected in the locker room,” said Lacroix.
Hamilton was one of the nation’s top shot blockers a year ago with 90.
Pearson said it will be up to the four captains to figure out the direction of the team.
“Obviously, the end goal is to win a national championship,” he said.
Lacroix said the four of them bring different qualities to the table.
“We’re four different types of players and we have different personalities. We can use that to complement each other and lead the team in the right direction,” said Lacroix.
Last season Pearson tied for ninth in the country in goals among freshmen (14), which ranked second on the team. He also had eight assists.
He said he wants to be able to generate more speed while carrying the puck through the neutral zone this season.
“That will take my game to the next level,” said Pearson, a fifth-round draft choice of the Detroit Red Wings and the son of former longtime NHLer Scott Pearson.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Pearson said the team needs to be more consistent.
“We struggled with that last year. We don’t want to get too high or too low. We need to be more even-keeled,” he said.
The Black Bears are coming off three losing seasons. They were 11-21-4 overall a year ago, 5-15-2 in Hockey East. They have finished 11th in the 12-team league the last two seasons at 5-15-2.
Hockey East will have 11 teams this season since Notre Dame left to join the Big Ten.
“Our main focus is to forget about the past couple of seasons, look toward the future and focus on the present,” said the 6-3, 220-pound Hamilton.
“I love this team,” said Pearson. “We have some very good freshmen and the guys returning will help us a lot. Put those two together and I think we’re going to be very good.”
The Black Bears encounter a UConn team whose nine-member senior class is the second largest among the nation’s 60 Division I hockey programs.
“These points are huge. We’ve got to come out flying,” said Pearson. “They have a very good goalie (Adam Huska). It’s going to be a challenge but we’re all up for it.”