I am a Maine Hockey Fan
I will always remember my first Maine hockey game- sitting there in wide-eyed astonishment as my friend Sarah explained the chants and the history of the Alfond and the UMaine hockey program. It was a day I will never forget- it helped shape my collegiate experience, as well influence the rest of my life.
I entered the University of Maine in 2001. It was a bittersweet year for the Black Bears, with the untimely death of legendary coach, Shawn Walsh. The team made it all the way to the Frozen Four in St. Paul, where we lost in overtime to Minnesota. It was during my junior year that Maine Hockey changed my life. I met the people who have come to form what we call ” The Hockey Family”. We were Maine-iacs and we would sit next to each other every game. Being social people, before we knew it, conversation flowed freely. Games turned into dinners as a group, turned into road trips (mostly to see away hockey games), turned into major life events. Three weddings and three babies later, we have this incredible bond, that was formed, in part, by Maine hockey.
Ten years later, we are season ticket holders. We travel from as far away as Western Massachusetts, every other weekend, without fail. It’s dedication. Maine hockey, for me and my family, is more than just a game. It’s a way of life.
Our way of life is now being threatened. Gone are the glory days of being a powerhouse, and upon us is the acceptance of mediocrity. Boring hockey and sub-par records are causing mass disinterest and disgust, which is changing the very fabric of the Maine hockey fan base. What used to be a rock-em/sock-em event has turned into soft hits, boring goals and weak play. All of those factors would lead to the dismal 2-11-2 start to the 2012/13 season- a season that saw a total record of 11-19-8. People who have held season tickets for 20-plus years are selling their tickets, no longer interested in supporting such wasted talent. A season that ends in just two home wins does not inspire people to renew their seats.
The course of the program changed in 2008. In 2008, Maine finished 9th in Hockey East and did not qualify for the playoffs. That summer, the amazing Grant Standbrook, the best goalie coach/recruiter in program history, retired. His retirement marked the end of an era for Maine hockey, and what followed has been disastrous.
Let’s talk statistics for a moment:
2001-2007: 154-69-26 -the Black Bear hockey record immediately following the passing of Shawn Walsh. These were teams that were heavily influenced by the coaching of Walsh and Grant the Great, by the play of players who played for Walsh.
1 Hockey East Championship, 6 NCAA tournament berths, 2 National Championship Runner-ups
2007-2013: 95-101-27 A triple-digit loss column. The lack of the Walsh/Grant influence is clear.
Three Hockey East tournament first round losses, 2 Hockey East finals, and 1 national tournament berth, where we lost in the first round. (Worcester, DCU Center, 2012)
It is time for a change. The coaching staff has lead us into a dark place. I believe that the players have the talent, but they need coaches who are able to cultivate and develop. The staff that is currently in place does not have that ability. The Univeristy of Maine Hockey program is currently under review by the athletic department and President Ferguson’s office. Now is the time to write to the administration and express our discontent with the current state of the hockey program. I will be sending an email to President Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Will you do the same?