Hockey East : Maine Black Bears 14′-15′ Outlook

Forwards

The Black Bears bring back Jr. Devin Shore, a legitimate NHL prospect. Shore posted 43 points in 35 games as a sophomore and was the #1 option on the power-play and the clear top forward on the team. Now he has another year of experience under his belt in what should be his final season for Maine, expect big things. His supporting cast is something of a question mark however. The next best option up front for Maine is Jr. Steven Swavley (31) 10-10-20 and Sr. Connor Leen (34) 6-17-23. The top freshman recruit is Nolan Vesey (South Shore Kings- USPHL).

Defense

6’3-200 Jr. Ben Hutton is the face of this group and one of the best defensemen in all of college hockey. He led the team with 15 goals in 13’-14’. Hutton has the best chance of playing professionally of anybody on this team. The next best defender is Soph. Dan Renouf (6’2-205) who brings size and physicality. There’s a pair of freshman who will probably step in right away in Malcolm Hayes (Cushing Academy) and Mark Hamilton (Salisbury-Vernon Vipers). They each bring size (Hamiliton is 6’3-220, Hayes is 6’2-220).

Goaltenders

Maine must replace every minute in net as Martin Quellete (34 GP) and Dan Sullivan (4 GP) each graduated. Freshman Sean Romeo (Youngstown) had a very good career in the USHL and has a good chance of starting immediately, but will be challenged by Jr. Matt Morris and So. Nik Nugnes. Morris was one of the top goalies in his age group coming up in juniors and appeared in 6 games as a freshman. Last season he was relegated to backup duties and didn’t see any ice time. Nugnes is a big 6’3-200 goalie who played with the Connecticut Oilers (EHL). Expect to see Romeo start with Morris getting chances too.

Outlook

Because of their size and coaching, Maine will be a tough team to beat. Shore and Hutton are stars, but the supporting cast hasn’t proven they are on par with the rest of the Hockey East competition. This could be the year they do.  It’s up to players like Stu Higgins, Connor Leen and Brian Morgan to determine if Maine is a middle of the pack team, or a contender in one of college hockey’s best conferences. Coming into the season with untested goaltending is a concern, but Romeo could have easily played last season if not for Quellete returning. If there’s offense behind Shore and his line-mates, teams might have a tough time matching up with Maine.

Pro Prospects

Jr (D) Ben Hutton – 6’3-200

Jr (F) Devin Shore – 6’1-185

Fr (G) Sean Romeo – 6’1-165

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