ORONO, Maine — One of the key components in the University of Maine men’s hockey team’s turnaround season a year ago was freshman goalie Jeremy Swayman.
The fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins had the nation’s 14th best save percentage (.921) to go with a 2.72 goals-against average and a 15-12-3 record.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound native of Anchorage, Alaska, held opponents to two goals or fewer in 15 of his 30 starts. Swayman was chosen to the Hockey East All-Rookie team.
His 15 victories ranked third among the nation’s freshman goaltenders.
Swayman anticipates an even better season as the Black Bears open the campaign Friday at 7 p.m. with a two-game series against St. Lawrence.
“Moving into this year, I’ve been working on my consistency with the mental game, the physical game as well,” Swayman said. “I’ve worked on my skating ability a lot this summer and my aerobic ability as well just so I can play day in and day out at a top level.”
He has also addressed his puck handling.
“I want to make sure my defensemen trust me enough to make plays to get the puck out [of the defensive zone] very easily,” he added.
The 19-year-old Swayman said he also worked on his ice vision to help anticipate where shots might come from or how plays might develop.
The Black Bears are comfortable with him between the pipes.
“He was a rock for us last year and, with a year under his belt, I expect more of the same,” junior center and co-captain Chase Pearson said.
“His compete level sets him apart from everyone else,” Pearson added.
Senior defenseman and co-captain Rob Michel pointed to Swayman’s calm demeanor and maturity.
“It puts the D corps at ease knowing he’s back in the net, for sure. Whenever we have a breakdown, he’s always there to bail us out,” Michel said.
For the second straight summer, Swayman spent a week at the Boston Bruins development camp. One of his tutors was former University of Maine All-American and Bruins goalie development coach Mike Dunham.
“It was great. I learned so much again,” Swayman said.
UMaine (18-16-4) tied for fifth in Hockey East at 10-11-3 last season.
“I liked the fact we had success last year, but we aren’t satisfied. Moving into this year, we have a chip on our shoulders,” Swayman said.
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