Hockey East Preview: Maine Black Bears

Last Season: 15–17–4 (11–9–4 HE, sixth place); Lost in HE quarterfinals 

Head Coach: Red Gendron (seventh season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Eighth

Losses

  • G Rob McGovern 
  • D Sam Becker
  • D Brady Keeper
  • D Rob Michel
  • D Keith Muehlbauer
  • F Canon Pieper
  • F Brendan Robbins
  • F Daniel Perez
  • F Chase Pearson

Additions

  • G Matthew Thiessen
  • D Levi Kleiboer
  • D  J.D. Greenway
  • D Perry Winfree
  • D Adrien Bisson
  • F Ben Poisson
  • F Brady Gaudette
  • F Dawson Bruenski
  • F Remy Parker

By Matthew Cunha

In the last two years, Red Gendron’s Black Bears finished sixth after several seasons as Hockey East bottom-feeders. The improvement was largely due to goalie Jeremy Swayman, who made the All-Hockey East third team last season and posted a 2.78 GAA and .919 save percentage. Last season, the fourth-round Boston Bruins prospect often bailed out the Black Bears.

Big blows came this offseason with the departures of Chase Pearson and Brady Keeper to the pros. Pearson and Keeper finished second and third in scoring for the Black Bears, combining for 52 points. 

The good news for Maine is the return of senior Mitchell Fossier. Fossier led Maine in scoring for the second straight season with 36 points, good for seventh in Hockey East. Fossier was the clear-cut choice to captain the Black Bears this season. He will be assisted by seniors Ryan Smith and Tim Doherty (fourth in scoring last season) and junior Jack Quinlivan. 

The nine newcomers for the Black Bears are highlighted by junior J.D. Greenway, the 72nd pick in the 2016 draft (Toronto Maple Leafs) and the brother of Minnesota Wild’s Jordan Greenway. J.D. played two seasons at the University of Wisconsin (10 points in 46 career games) before losing playing time and deciding to play junior hockey. The 6’5” defensemen should add clarity, structure, steadiness, and a veteran presence to the Black Bears’ back end, though his experience at Wisconsin is a bit concerning.

Another addition Northeastern fans will notice is freshman Brady Gaudette, the brother of former Northeastern Husky and Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. Brady comes to Maine after a year of playing junior hockey.

Bottom Line: Maine seems destined for the middle of the pack once again thanks to Swayman, who now has talented defenseman J.D. Greenway in front of him. Outside of Fossier, the Black Bears will have a hard time putting the puck in the net after the losses of Pearson and Kepper to the pros. If the freshmen can’t score the offense could go downhill fast, but Swayman is good enough to get this team back in sixth place with another first-round exit.

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