ORONO – When it came to assembling a second line for the University of Maine men’s hockey team, Coach Tim Whitehead needed to use some strategy.

Whitehead had to find the player who could complement left wing Spencer Abbott and center Robby Dee. He needed a player who could also continue the versatile play that their previous linemate, David deKastrozza, had provided during the 2009-2010 season.

Ultimately, Whitehead trusted his instinct. He called on Joey Diamond, a diminutive right wing who played primarily on the third and fourth lines last season.

“It was a gut feeling,” Whitehead said. “Joey isn’t built like David deKastrozza but he plays similar. He’s tough, he wins loose pucks and he’s very good at faceoffs. He complements Robby and Spencer well, and he seemed like the logical guy to put in there.”

Maine’s second line of Diamond, Abbott and Dee has combined for 10 points in the first two games. Diamond is a 5-foot-8 sophomore called to step in for deKastrozza, a 6-3 wing who graduated and moved to the pros. Diamond is third in Hockey East scoring with two goals and two assists. The productive second line has anchored Maine — ranked sixth in the nation in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and eighth in the USCHO.com top 20 — which opens a two-game series tonight at No. 20 Michigan State.

“All three of us work in different ways, but we work well together,” Abbott said. “We started off in practice a month ago and right away we clicked. I had an idea about this line. I thought (Joey) was the guy that was going to be thrown in there and that’s really who we wanted.

“Joey had a great end of the year last year in the playoffs. He worked really hard in the offseason and, obviously, it showed. If we can continue to get that out of him for the rest of the year, he’s going to have a great year. He’s got some things to work on but we all have things to work on. It’s early in the year but as the season progresses, he’s going to get stronger and we’re all going to get stronger.”

Diamond, Abbott and Dee have immediately provided reinforcement for Maine’s top line of Brian Flynn, Tanner House and Gustav Nyquist.

“I think it’s at the point now where we have two first lines,” Whitehead said. “That’s what’s great, is that they’re making an impact offensively, defensively, physically and they can play the power play and the penalty kill. And I’m comfortable putting them out during the first minute of the game and in the last minute of the game. Teams can try to shut down Tanner’s line and find out Robby’s line is just as good.”

Diamond brings a feisty presence around the net, while Dee has established himself as one of Maine’s top faceoff specialists and Abbott brings composure to the lineup.

“We do what we can,” Dee said. “We try to score goals, we try to get scoring chances and do what we can to help our team out.”

They each take an active role in forechecking, and find a way not only to create plays but to crash the net and cash in on scoring chances.

“You always want to take the goalie’s eyes away,” Diamond said. “As long as you have someone in front of the net, I feel like we can just get shots and rebounds and make sure the goalie doesn’t see those shots.”

But their role is collective, in order to be effective across the ice.

“We want to do everything,” Diamond said. “We want to score goals, we want to use our body, we want to play defense and we want to contribute to the team, shift in and shift out. If we can do the little things right and not get too hard on ourselves, I think we can keep this thing rolling.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]pressherald.com