FALMOUTH – Matt Duffy looked at the bright side of working at a hockey camp this week.

Spending days on the ice as an instructor beat lifting weights, doing wind sprints and core workouts, some of the facets of offseason hockey training that can take up entire mornings or sometimes entire days.

Instead, Duffy, a Windham resident, is one of 12 current and former University of Maine players working at the Black Bear Hockey Camp this week at Family Ice Center.

“I’d rather be out here teaching kids the game of hockey instead of being stuck in the weight room,” said Duffy, who played at Maine from 2005 to 2009. “It’s good to get to work with the younger kids out here and to teach them to enjoy the game of hockey.”

Maine typically holds its hockey camps for boys and girls at Alfond Arena in Orono. However, renovations to the building forced the camps to relocate to Falmouth. It’s one of seven hockey camps Family Ice Center will host this summer, including the Stride Envy Hockey Skills Camp, the Pro Ambitions Hockey Camp and the Tim Thomas Hockey Camp.

Having a camp run in the southern Maine area by the Black Bears’ hockey program is an opportunity UMaine players with local ties, such as Lewiston resident Mark Anthoine, did not have as youngsters.

“The kids I’ve talked to have had so much fun,” Anthoine said. “We can build relationships with some of the kids here in the Greater Portland area and when they see us play they can say, ‘Hey, I know him and I want to see him play hockey.’“

Anthoine, who will be a sophomore forward for the Black Bears, attended hockey camps out of state and trained in the Midwest as a member of the USHL’s Chicago Steel and Sioux City Musketeers, but he can’t remember attending a hockey camp within driving distance of his hometown, except for camps at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

As a camp instructor, Anthoine also is learning the tools of coaching, an endeavor that’s unfamiliar to him.

“You try to help the kids out but at the same time, you’re really trying to instruct them,” Anthoine said. “It tests your knowledge. If you’re trying to teach, you find it’s also the best way to learn something.”

The Black Bear Hockey Camp, which runs through Friday at Family Ice Center, is hosting 52 youth hockey players, including Portland resident Emma Merrill, one of a handful of girls in attendance.

“I think it’s been a really good experience and it’s really fun,” said Merrill, an 8-year-old who plays defense. “I’m meeting a lot of the players and getting to know them, and I’m getting to be a better hockey player.”

The 52 campers are broken into two groups, one that skates in a morning session and another that skates in an afternoon session, and each session breaks the campers into smaller groups who work with players and alumni. Wednesday morning at Family Ice Center, four groups of players skated with Duffy, Anthoine, Maine captain Will O’Neill, goalie Josh Seeley, forward Matt Mangene, defenseman Brice O’Connor, team manager Tyler Walsh, former Maine players Marcus Gustafsson and Travis Ramsey, and assistant coach Dan Kerluke.

“The goal is keeping kids on the ice,” said Rich Tibbetts, Casco Bay Hockey’s marketing director and a youth hockey coach in the organization. “With a large number of kids, there’s a lot of standing around, and we keep the groups small here and keep them moving.”

Tibbetts said a second Black Bears Hockey Camp is in the works to return to the Portland area next summer, and the current presence is twofold: Local youth hockey players have another option for attending summer hockey camps, and Maine hockey has another avenue for brand exposure.

“This is where the bulk of the population is,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “There’s no doubt we’d like to be down here more.

“This is another way to get the University of Maine Black Bears name out here, in a place where there are so many alums.”

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

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