– RACHEL LENZI

Staff Writer

Following the University of Maine men’s hockey team’s first winning season since 2006-07, Athletic Director Blake James said Thursday afternoon that he plans to offer Coach Tim Whitehead a contract extension.

“It’s great to know we have the full support of the administration as we continue to progress back to knowing where we want the program to be,” Whitehead said. “We’ve been on that level and on a national level on a consistent basis.

“We’ve made a lot of progress this year but we’ve got another step to take.”

Whitehead has one year remaining on his current contract and is due to make $175,000 next season — his 10th as Maine’s head coach.

“At this point, he has a year left, and I’m planning on offering him an extension,” James said.

The announcement comes less than a week after Maine reached the Hockey East championship game, falling 7-6 in overtime to Boston College on Saturday at TD Garden in Boston.

“Obviously, having one year left on the current agreement, I was pleased with the progress the team made,” James said. “When you see what the future of the program is, it’s a credit to Maine hockey as a whole.”

James said he did not have a timetable in place to finalize a contract extension.

“We’ll go through this in the next couple weeks,” James said. “There’s no timeline yet on an extension, and it’s hard to really put a timeline on the process.”

In nine seasons at Maine, Whitehead has a record of 199-126-36 with four Frozen Four appearances, two appearances in the national championship game and eight Hockey East tournament appearances.

In 13 seasons as a Division I head coach, including four at UMass-Lowell, he has a career record of 275-221-47.

Following two losing seasons, Maine was 19-17-3 this winter. The Black Bears returned to the national rankings for the first time since November 2007 and finished the season ranked No. 18 in the USCHO.com/CBS College Sports top 20.

The Black Bears had the top power play in the nation (27.7 percent, 62 for 224) and the fourth-best offense (3.67 goals a game) this season. Sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist, the nation’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 42 assists, is one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey.

“We’re excited about the student-athletes’ performance on the ice and in the classroom,” Whitehead said. “It’s great to know we have the support of the administration.”

DAVID deKASTROZZA, a senior right wing, signed with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and is expected to be in the lineup tonight against Reading at North Charleston, S.C.

DeKastrozza had nine goals and 12 assists in 36 games for the Black Bears this season.

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]WHITEHEAD AT UMAINE

Season W L T

2001-02-y 26 11 7

2002-03-x 24 10 5

2003-04-y 33 8 3

2004-05-x 20 13 7

2005-06-y 28 12 2

2006-07-y 23 15 2

2007-08 13 18 3

2008-09 13 22 4

2009-10 19 17 3

Totals 199 126 36

x-made NCAA tournament

y-reached Frozen Four