ORONO — Steven Swavely skated onto the Alfond Arena ice Thursday with a mischievous grin as he approached an unsuspecting Daniel Perez.

Perez, in the middle of a television interview, soon got a face full of cream as his Maine hockey teammates erupted with laughter.

The scene, a staple of the team’s annual media day, could mean only two things: Perez is a freshman and Swavely is the Black Bears’ captain this year.

“It definitely is the biggest honor I’ve had in my career. Not only in hockey but in anything I’ve ever done,” said Swavely, a senior center from Reading, Pennsylvania. “The state of Maine, they cherish their hockey team and for me to be able to put that ‘C’ on my jersey is something I’ll never forget.”

Swavely, 23, assumes the captaincy from Devin Shore, who led Maine with 35 points as a junior last year before turning pro. Swavely will be charged with helping the Black Bears improve on a 14-22-3 record while providing guidance for the nine freshmen in Coach Red Gendron’s third season.

The challenge begins in Portland, where Maine is hosting the Ice Breaker tournament that kicks off the college hockey season. The Black Bears will face Michigan State on Oct. 9 and No. 4 North Dakota on Oct. 10. Both games begin at 8 p.m. at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Gendron has been touting Swavely’s skills and maturity for two years, and has shown his faith in the 6-foot-3 forward by using him all over the ice. Swavely has played center and wing, has been a steady presence on the penalty kill and last year found himself at the point on the power play. He responded with eight goals and 20 assists, the 28 points tied for second on the team with center Cam Brown.

“Steven is pure of heart. He gets it,” Gendron said. “People who are pure of heart are selfless, they’re humble, and at the same time they’re confident and aggressive.

“He’s an all-in guy. He knows the difference between being somebody’s friend and being somebody’s teammate.”

Swavely arrived at Maine two seasons after his older brother, Jon. He had served as the captain on his junior team, the New Jersey Hitmen, and his fellow freshmen recognized the budding leader in their midst.

“Just the way he acted, he was a little more mature than all the rest of us,” said forward Will Merchant, a senior assistant captain this year.

“He’s vocal. And he’s out there every night giving it his all.”

Swavely doesn’t shy away from confrontation, on or off the ice. If he feels a message needs to be delivered to an underperforming teammate, he is quick to speak up. It won’t all be good-natured paper plates filled with cream to the face for the freshmen this year.

“You’ve got to be loud at times to get your point across. In a positive way, though. The distinction there is important,” Swavely said.

“I’ve always wanted to express my voice, whether that be as a freshman or a senior. I have more responsibility now, for sure. But I’ve always wanted to give my opinion when needed.”

Swavely backs up the talk with a refined style of play that you have to watch closely to fully appreciate. He has built up enough strength in his legs to be one of the team’s fastest skaters, deceptively so for someone of his size.

He is a two-way center in the truest sense of the word, rarely out of position on either end of the ice. He took only six penalties last year despite usually matching up with the opponents’ top line.

He works at honing his game.

“It’s just getting better at one little thing every day,” Swavely said. “I want to be on the ice in all situations. Any athlete, you want as much responsibility on you as you can and to make the right plays, to come through.”


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