March 17, 2013

UMaine Hockey: Wounded Bears set to prowl next year

Despite a painful ending to 2012-2013, Tim Whitehead sees better days ahead for a once-dominant program.

By Glenn Jordan
Staff Writer

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"These guys go through so much, they really are a family," Whitehead said. "For them to stick with each other with all their faults -- with all our faults -- and to improve as they did, to genuinely improve, and have the second-best record in the league since Christmas, we're very proud of them. It bodes very well for the future."

Whitehead is under contract with the university through the 2013-14 season, at an annual salary of $190,000. After taking over from Shawn Walsh -- who led the Black Bears to national titles in 1993 and 1999 -- Whitehead guided Maine to four Frozen Four appearances and two championship games, all in his first six years in Orono. Over the past six seasons, Maine has played in one NCAA tournament game, a first-round loss to Minnesota-Duluth last March.

Whitehead will bid adieu to captains Mike Cornell, Mark Nemec and Diamond along with fellow seniors Kyle Beattie, Adam Shemansky, Nick Pryor and Klas Leidermark.

Diamond departs with the dubious distinction of Maine's most penalized player, and by more than 100 minutes than anyone else in school history. He accumulated 160 penalties over four years worth 467 minutes -- nearly eight hours -- in the penalty box.

After being whistled for three minors Thursday night against Lowell, Diamond received a minor, two majors and a disqualification Friday. As the team's leading goal scorer with 14, he was sorely missed in the third period and overtime.

"He's part of our family and we stuck with him and I feel for him," Whitehead said. "We've worked very hard with him. He has come a long way. I know it didn't look like it (Friday night), but he has. And he'll bounce back from this."

Will the Black Bears bounce back into upper echelon of Hockey East and the national playoff picture next winter? Only time will tell.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH


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