The University of Maine hockey team will have a new look on defense next season.
Defenseman Alexis Binner has left the program after his sophomore season to return to his native Sweden, where he is embarking on a professional career.
He will be replaced by incoming freshman Adrien Bisson, according to UMaine head coach Red Gendron.
The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Binner appeared in 33 of 36 games last season and registered two goals and nine assists. He had a plus-5 rating, which was second on the team behind Rob Michel’s plus-12.
He played in 36 games as a freshman and posted a goal and eight assists. His plus-9 rating that year was second to Brady Keeper’s plus-17.
“He was a good player. He wanted to play pro hockey in Sweden and we wish him the best,” Gendron said.
The departure of Binner means five of UMaine’s top seven defensemen last season have either graduated or signed pro contracts.
Michel, Keith Muehlhauer and Sam Becker graduated and sophomore Keeper signed with the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.
Just prior to the season, Patrick Holway, who was a junior defenseman, left school for what he termed a “personal matter” that required him to be closer to his home in Cohasset, Massachusetts.
He has since transferred to Hockey East rival Merrimack College.
The 20-year-old Bisson, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound native of Cornwall, Ontario, racked up seven goals and 21 assists in 51 games last season for the Ottawa Junior Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League. He notched three goals and five assists in 14 playoff games.
“Adrien is a great skater who is highly-skilled and has very good hockey sense,” Gendron said. “He is very good defensively. He isn’t a prolific scorer but he has good offensive skills.”
Bisson, who signed a National Letter of Intent and will be a scholarship player, joins University of Wisconsin transfer J.D. Greenway, Saskatchewan native Levi Kleiboer and Alberta product Dawson Bruneski as incoming defensemen.
Greenway, whose brother Jordan plays for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, played last season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League after spending two seasons at Wisconsin so he is eligible immediately.
The returning defensemen include Simon Butala (2 assists), who played in 36 games as a freshman, Jakub Sirota (goal, 4 assists, 18 games), who joined the team after the first semester and sophomores Veli-Matti Tiuraniemi and Cam Spicer.
Tiuraniemi’s sophomore season was marred by injury as he appeared in only six games after playing in 26 as a freshman and collecting three goals and five assists. Spicer played in four games and had an assist.