Seniors Night is always a special occasion.
Seniors are honored for their careers with family members and friends on hand to celebrate before and after the game.
Six University of Maine men’s hockey players play their final regular-season game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Alfond Arena against Providence College in their mutual Hockey East finale.
“I don’t know as we’ve ever had a Seniors Night [game] in my four years game that has meant so much in the standings,” senior captain Mitch Fossier said. “It’ll be a bit of a strange night but we’ve got to make sure we show up.”
The game has huge playoff ramifications.
UMaine sits in fifth place but if the Black Bears win and UMass Lowell beats visiting Connecticut on Friday, UMaine will earn the No. 4 seed and host a best-of-three quarterfinal series. That is the only way the Black Bears can host due to the tie breaking procedure.
“We know what’s at stake,” senior Tim Doherty said. “I think we all have the mental ability to enjoy the little moment before the game but be able to flip that switch and be ready to go.
“It’s a huge game. It’s pretty much a playoff game. We’ll be ready to go,” Doherty added.
Left winger Fossier goes into the game tied with Ron Hellen for 31st on UMaine’s career scoring list with 127 points (37 goals, 90 assists) in 133 games. Doherty, a center, has 34 goals and 42 assists in 100 games. He does have another year of eligibility.
Right wingers Ryan Smith (18 & 17 in 125 games), Patrick Shea (20 & 34, 134 games), Niagara University transfer Sam Rennaker (21 & 13, 116 games at the two schools) and goaltender Stephen Mundinger (3.54 goals-against average, .892 save percentage in five games) are the other seniors.
Mundinger also has another year of eligibility remaining.
“These seniors have meant a whole lot to the program,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “This class has shepherded a pretty consistent rise in the efficacy of the program. We have been inching upwards.”
Gendron said the seniors also have been impactful in other ways.
“They’re good students, good members of the community and have built a cohesive unit in the locker room and away from the rink,” he said.
Fossier said his four years at UMaine have been the most fun he has ever had.
“It’s pretty wild how quickly it goes by,” Fossier added. “I couldn’t have come in here with a better group of guys.”
“These have been the best four years of my life. I will remember them forever,” said Doherty. “There have been so many highlights. I’ve been able to make life-long friends. We’re a close group and we have fun every day. “
Rennaker has spent two years at UMaine but sat out last year due and practiced with the team due to the NCAA transfer rule.
“It has been amazing. I’m the luckiest guy around to have had the opportunity to come here,” Rennaker said.
Shea said one of his highlights was getting to know the other seniors while working out together the summer before their freshman season. He also mentioned the trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the Friendship 4 Tournament his sophomore year.
“[Alfond Arena] is a special place,” said Mundinger. “Nothing compares to our fans … the students and the community.”
Fossier agreed, saying seeing the Alfond Arena full for the New Hampshire series and experiencing the electric atmosphere is a special memory.
Doherty said sweeps of New Hampshire and at No. 4 Boston College this season will always be cherished. Rennaker said the first time he played at Alfond Arena against Alaska Anchorage, after waiting for a whole year to do so, sticks out for him.
Smith said playing at Fenway Park in Boston, a 4-0 win his freshman year, is among his highlights.