November 30, 2012

UMaine Hockey: One rough Diamond

Maine's Joey Diamond plays with a rambunctious style that has put him in the record book – for penalty minutes.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ORONO - When Vermont visits Maine this weekend for a pair of Hockey East games between programs that have but four victories between them, much is uncertain.

click image to enlarge

Joey Diamond, right, is never lacking for hard-nosed hustle when he’s on the ice – a style he’s had since Pee Wee hockey growing up in Long Island, N.Y. “Pound for pound, without a doubt, he’s the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” said Maine Coach Tim Whitehead.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

VERMONT (2-7-2, 2-5-2 Hockey East) at MAINE (2-9-1, 1-5-1)

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

TELEVISION: CBS Sports Network

RADIO: 96.3 FM/1310 AM

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

RADIO: 96.3 FM/1310 AM

WHERE: Alfond Arena, Orono

MAINE OUTLOOK: Sophomore Connor Leen is the only player to score more than once. He has three goals. Freshman Devin Shore leads the team with five assists and classmate Ben Hutton has four. Junior Martin Ouellette (1-3-1) sports a 2.59 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. Maine is 1-0-1 following a seven-game losing streak and looking for its first victory in its seventh game at Alfond.

VERMONT OUTLOOK: The Catamounts are coming off a pair of home losses to No. 3 Minnesota last weekend. Chris McCarthy leads UVM with four goals and four assists. Brody Hoffman has played all 11 games in goal and sports a 2.95 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. 

-- Glenn Jordan 

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX

Career penalty minute leaders at Maine, with year on the team in parentheses. 

1. Joey Diamond (09-13) 361

2. Prestin Ryan (01-04) 355

3. Scott Smith (82-86) 287

4. Scott Pellerin (88-92) 276

5. Brent Shepheard (03-07) 257

6. John Tortorella (78-81) 218

7. Bob Corkum (85-89) 205

8. Shawn Wansborough (94-98) 201

9. Dan Shermerhorn (93-97) 200

9. Peter Metcalf (98-02) 200

Will the Black Bears, who rank above only Alabama-Huntsville in goals per game among Division I college hockey teams, find their scoring touch?

Will the Catamounts, whose 1.64 goals per game average is third from the bottom, be similarly frustrated?

Will Maine's power play, currently ranked dead last with three goals in 56 chances, finally click?

Will feisty Maine senior Joey Diamond avoid the penalty box both Friday and Saturday nights?

Actually, there's not much mystery to that fourth query. Diamond is Maine's all-time leader in penalty minutes, having accumulated more than six hours of consequences during his four years as a Black Bear.

"It's just a function of the style of play that I play," said Diamond, who moved past Prestin Ryan on the career list after getting sent off the ice three times in Maine's most recent game, a 2-2 overtime tie with UMass two weeks ago at Alfond Arena.

"I play on the line and sometimes I cross it, and that's basically it," said Diamond.

A year ago, Diamond led Maine in goals with 25 and scored 11 of them on the power play, which tied for the national lead. He also had 22 assists and was a semifinalist for the Walter Brown Award, given each year to the top American-born college hockey player in New England.

"He wins loose pucks and he gets under people's skin," said Coach Tim Whitehead. "He does that better than just about anybody I've ever coached. He's physical. He drives the net. He blocks shots on the defensive side, and he can score."

But not, of course, from a seat next to the scorekeeper.

"With that (style) comes some penalties," Whitehead said. "He's improved his discipline over the years, just as Prestin Ryan did."

Ryan racked up 355 penalty minutes in a three-year career at Maine but wound up an all-American and a senior captain, same as Diamond. Ryan also reached the NHL with Vancouver and currently plays professionally in Germany.

"Prestin, like Joe, took some time to get that competitive edge under control," Whitehead said. "Last year was a great evidence of how far he can go when he keeps that under control. It was impressive. The season he had was exceptional."

This year, Diamond doesn't have the luxury of playing alongside Spencer Abbott and Brian Flynn, who wound up with 41 and 30 assists, respectively. Matt Mangene, who was fourth on the team in scoring, gave up his final year of eligibility in order to turn pro with Abbott and Flynn.

"Joe's putting a lot of weight on his shoulders to carry all the mail," Whitehead said. "And that's difficult for any player, even an elite player like Joe."

Through 11 games -- he sat out the second Lowell game with a back issue -- Diamond has one goal and three assists.

"This year, I'm a captain and I have to lead the team in different ways," Diamond said. "Show the freshmen how things are done or what you have to do in certain situations. Also, I need to contribute and put pucks in the net. It's definitely a different role from last year, but I'm going to do the best I can to fulfill that role."

Diamond said his style hasn't changed since his Pee Wee days growing up on Long Island in New York. He describes it as a blue-collar style.

"Don't give anyone an inch and play hard," he said. "That's really it."

(Continued on page 2)

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