ORONO — Rob McGovern’s biggest asset as a goaltender is his size.

But he recognized there can be too much of a good thing. When his weight ballooned to more than 260 pounds, the 6-foot-4 McGovern took action last summer.

Five days a week, for two hours a day, McGovern worked out with a trainer near his home in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Two or three times a week he would supplement that with some skating.

By the time he got to the University of Maine as a freshman walk-on, McGovern was down to 220 pounds.

The weight loss has been worth it.

McGovern, a surprise starter in Maine’s second game of the season, responded with 44 saves in a 1-1 tie with top-ranked North Dakota. He had 28 more in another 1-1 tie in the next game, at Union. He was in goal for both games of the Capital City Classic tournament last weekend in Trenton, New Jersey.


McGovern appears to have established himself as Maine’s top goaltender as the Black Bears begin Hockey East play with a 7 p.m. game Friday at No. 3 Boston College (6-1).

“The past couple of years people have been saying (he needed to lose weight), then when I finally committed here I knew I had to do it,” he said. “So I just put the work in in the offseason to get down to where I feel I need to be to play at this level.

“Some days were pretty tough, waking up and dragging myself to the gym. I feel quicker, more explosive and a lot more conditioned. A couple of years ago, the end of the third period, I would start to feel it. But now it feels good. I can keep going strong through the whole game.”

Coach Red Gendron was mum about who will start this weekend (the series concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday at BC), calling his goaltending situation “fluid.”

But it was obvious last weekend that Gendron wants to give McGovern every chance to establish himself. He likes the competitive spirit of his new goaltender, who is affectionately called “Bubba” by his teammates.

McGovern suffered a knee injury against Union when he collided with an opposing forward. He sat out Maine’s next two games, losses to Union and Quinnipiac. When he returned, he had his worst outing in a 5-4 overtime loss to Massachusetts in the Capital City Classic opener.


Gendron gave him a Saturday morning pep talk, then stuck with the freshman in that afternoon’s game against Princeton. Maine (0-4-3) lost again but McGovern was much better, saving 22 of 24 the shots he faced.

“I just wanted to show him he was right for believing in me, putting me back in,” McGovern said.

McGovern has a 2.15 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Senior Matt Morris has started the other three games (3.33 GAA, .912 save percentage).

Goaltending hasn’t been the issue for the Black Bears. The offense has mustered only 10 goals and Maine is an abysmal 2 of 27 on power plays. Forwards Steven Swavely and Nolan Vesey have yet to record a point.

Gendron said he would juggle his lines to try to kick-start that offense against Boston College. One line that figures to remain intact is Cedric Lacroix centering freshman Daniel Perez and senior Andrew Tegeler, which produced a pair of goals against UMass.

“I think it’s pretty clear after seven games that we’re not going to win too many 6-5 games this season,” Gendron said.


So it will fall to McGovern and a defensive corps that has blocked at least 15 shots in every game this season to try to turn things around for Maine.

McGovern, 20, is itching to get his first collegiate win after three of his first four starts went into overtime. He also is out to prove himself.

As a high school senior, he was a potential NHL draft prospect. He said he had a conversation with a few teams but none took a chance on him. Last season McGovern played for the Bay State Breakers junior team, seemingly a forgotten man before ending up at Maine.

“I never really had high hopes for it. I thought there was a possibility” of being drafted, he said. “It kind of worked out in my favor. It keeps pushing me because I want to show them that they missed out.”

There may be less of McGovern to see these days, but there’s much more for him to show.

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