The University of Maine had pretty good luck with a goalie from the St. Louis area from 2005 to 2008. His name was Ben Bishop.
Now, the Black Bears have landed another goaltender who hails from the city called “The Gateway to the West.”
Connor Androlewicz recently made a verbal commitment to join the UMaine program in 2020. The UMaine coaching staff will be able to keep a close eye on him, because he will spend next season playing for the expansion Tier II Junior Maine Nordiques in the North American Hockey League.
Androlewicz will have two years of eligibility in the NAHL, but he is expected to attend UMaine on a full scholarship starting with the 2020-21 season.
“It’s good to know what the next few years are going to be for me,” Androlewicz said. “There’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”
Androlewicz posted a .927 save percentage while logging 1,258 minutes between the pipes this season for the Holderness School in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Holderness, which finished with a 16-11-4 record, finished as the runner-up to Tilton in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Androlewicz will graduate from Holderness this spring and will join the Nordiques in August. He said the primary reason he chose UMaine was the coaching staff.
“The staff is very invested in their players. They are in it for their players. They want them to be the best they can be, and they want to get the best out of them. It works both ways,” the 18-year-old Androlewicz said.
Androlewicz certainly knows about Bishop and the fact the school has produced 10 National Hockey League goaltenders, including UMaine goalies coach Alfie Michaud.
“It’s the place to be to further my career down the road, especially with Alfie as my goalie coach,” Androlewicz said. “He’s a great goaltender coach. He knows his stuff.”
Androlewicz last month became the first player to sign a contract with the Nordiques. He committed to UMaine after visiting campus for the second game of the Boston University series.
“He is not only a fantastic character person, but he’s also a great player, and on top of that, he is already a Division I Hockey East commit,” said Cam Robichaud, the Nordiques’ associate head coach and director of player recruitment and advancement. “That’s a huge accomplishment for us.”
He said going from prep school to a 60-game NAHL schedule will provide him with a good transition as he prepares for his UMaine career.
Androlewicz likes the idea of being a two-hour drive from Orono as the UMaine staff will be able to monitor his development, and he might be able to catch some Black Bears games.
Robichaud said the first thing that stands out about Androlewicz is his maturity and the way he carries himself off the ice.
“He is extremely disciplined in his [workout] time and his academics. He has an elite athletic mind,” Robichaud said. “He has great athleticism and good size, and he’s very knowledgeable about the game.”
Robichaud pointed out that Androlewicz is from a hockey family. His father was a goalie and is now coaching goalies, and his younger brother is also a goalie.
“He has a pro mentality,” Robichaud said.
Androlewicz skated with the Nordiques’ Tier III feeder program for a week during a break from school, and Robichaud said the way he prepares for practice shows the level of player he is.
His participation at UMaine will be contingent on admission to the school and meeting NCAA initial eligibility requirements.