Scott Darling has been dismissed from the University of Maine men’s hockey team.

Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said Wednesday that Darling, a sophomore goalie, has been released from the program and plans to start his professional hockey career with the Phoenix Coyotes.

“He’s not going to be back with the team this year,” Whitehead said.

“I’d set some guidelines for Scott to meet this spring and he was not able to follow through completely with those. Scott and I agreed that he make the move to pro hockey. It’s a new beginning for him.”

Darling did not return a message left Wednesday night on his cell phone.

Darling’s departure marks the end of a turbulent two years with the program.

Darling, 21, of Lemont, Ill., emerged as Maine’s starting goalie this season, playing in 27 games with a 15-6-3 record, a goals-against average of 3.10 and a save percentage of .895.

But on Jan. 9 in a 4-2 win over Merrimack, Darling suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament and missed Maine’s next two Hockey East games and a pair of exhibitions.

He returned to start the next nine games, but was suspended indefinitely on March 5 after violating team rules prior to a two-game series against Massachusetts.

Darling missed Maine’s final two regular-season games and its five Hockey East tournament games, his third suspension in 16 months. Through the university relations department, Darling released a statement March 9 regarding his suspension, apologizing to his teammates.

“I’ll be away from the team for a while as I deal with personal issues. I understand the reasons for my suspension and accept responsibility for my actions,” Darling said in the statement.

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches and our fans and I will work hard to return to the program when Coach Whitehead decides it is appropriate. I am thankful for the support I have received, and I am determined to learn from this situation and return ready to contribute in a significant way.”

In November 2008, Darling was benched for a game after missing a mandatory team workout. He served a two-game suspension at the start of the 2009-10 season, missing a weekend series at Union after violating the school’s student-athlete code of conduct in the spring of 2009.

In his freshman season, Darling played in 27 games, recording a goals-against average of 2.76 and a save percentage of .895, with three shutouts.

Phoenix drafted Darling in the sixth round of the 2007 NHL draft, No. 153 overall.

Maine will enter the fall with four goalies: sophomore Shawn Sirman, junior Josh Seeley, freshman Dan Sullivan and freshman Martin Ouellette.

In eight games last season, Sirman had a record of 1-6, a goals-against average of 5.19 and a save percentage of .832.

Seeley, a Bangor High graduate, has appeared in one game in two seasons with the Black Bears.

In 51 games this season with the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League, Sullivan had a goals-against average of 3.08 and a save percentage of .912. In five playoff games, he had a 1.65 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.

Ouellette played 1,461 minutes in 29 games at Kimball Union Academy this season, with a save percentage of .925 and a goals-against average of 1.61. He is ranked 13th among the NHL Central Scouting’s top 30 North American goaltenders.

 

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

[email protected]