The University of Maine men’s hockey team has landed teammates from the Jersey Hitmen of the United States Premier League’s National Collegiate Development Conference.
Perry Winfree, a 19-year-old defenseman from Cary, North Carolina, and 21-year-old center Remy Parker of Montclair, New Jersey, have verbally committed to attend UMaine beginning this fall.
The Hitmen won the league’s regular-season title by 19 points and had a 19-game winning streak before being upset in the first round of the playoffs. The franchise was chosen the NCDC’s Organization of the Year.
The 6-foot-1, 174-pound Winfree notched a goal and 12 assists in 22 games for the Hitmen after playing 12 games in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League for Surrey and Powell River, where he collected a goal and three assists.
He logged two goals and eight assists in 52 games for Surrey during the 2017-18 campaign.
The 6-3, 175-pound Parker tallied 18 goals and 34 assists in 48 games for the Hitmen after registering 9 & 11 in 44 games for Jersey in 2017-18.
Hitmen general manager and coach Toby Harris said the Black Bears are getting two quality players.
“Perry has a real high hockey IQ. He is an old-school defenseman. He is a master of simplicity,” Harris said.
Winfree does an excellent job snapping crisp breakout passes, and he makes smart decisions with the puck, Harris said.
Harris said Parker is a late bloomer who plays a 200-foot game.
“Three years ago, he was 5-foot-8, 140 pounds and was playing public school hockey in New Jersey. Then he walked on at Albany Academy [New York] and was their leading scorer,” Harris said.
“Remy is an excellent faceoff man and is very good defensively,” Harris said. “We played him in every situation: power play, penalty kill, 5-on-3, 4-on-3.”
Harris compared him to former Black Bear and Hitmen forward Steven Swavely.
Swavely is one of several Hitmen who found their way to Orono along with his brother, Jon Swavely, and Connor Leen.
Both players said they were impressed with UMaine and are looking forward to the season.
“I liked everything about Maine: the school, the coaches, the studies. It was amazing,” Parker said.
Winfree said he talked to his former coach, Kohl Schultz, who was the UMaine hockey team’s video specialist during the 2015-216 and 2016-217 seasons, and Schultz told him it was an exceptional program and a good fit for him.
“It is a professionally run organization,” Winfree said. “I loved the campus and the coaches, and the hockey program speaks for itself with two national championships.”
Winfree and Parker said attending UMaine together will make the transition easier.
“I didn’t even know Perry was talking to Maine, but 20 minutes after I committed to Maine, I found out he committed to Maine,” Parker said. “It’s going to be nice to share this journey with someone. He’s a great kid and teammate.”
Both feel they need to work on their strength and stamina over the summer.
Winfree will have a chance to make an immediate impact because UMaine returns only two of its seven regular defensemen off last year’s 15-17-4 team and both were freshmen: Simon Butala and Jakub Sirota.
“Obviously, that was eye candy for me,” Winfree said. “I’ll have an opportunity to earn some playing time if I can prove myself to the coaches.”
UMaine returns six of its top eight scorers among the forwards, but four will be seniors this season so Parker can learn from them while vying for ice time and gaining experience.
Winfree is a scholarship player, and Parker said he will receive some academic scholarship money.
Their participation at UMaine is contingent upon being accepted into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.