ORONO — For J.D. Greenway, the University of Maine offers a fresh start. The Black Bears have lost five of their six regular defensemen from last season, presenting Greenway a chance.

“I’ve got a lot to show,” Greenway said Wednesday after one of the team’s final practices before its opener on Saturday at Providence College. “I haven’t shown everything I can do. I think I’m ready to do it here at the University of Maine.”

A junior from Canton, New York, Greenway played two seasons at the University of Wisconsin before taking the unusual path of returning to junior hockey last winter. He’s expected to fill a large void left by the graduation of three defensemen from last year’s team — Rob Michel, Keith Muehlbauer and Sam Becker — as well as the early departures of Brady Keeper and Alexis Binner, who turned pro.

A third-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Greenway is the younger brother of Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Greenway. But J.D. could hardly be qualified as Jordan’s “little brother,” listed conservatively at 6-foot-5 and 212 pounds.

After playing in all but one game as a freshman in 2016-17 for Wisconsin, he was held out of the lineup for the first 21 games as a sophomore.

Despite being one of Coach Tony Granato’s first significant recruits, he fell out of favor. Greenway declined to comment on the reasons for his exit from Wisconsin.

“I was in a weird situation,” Greenway said.

“He just had some things off the ice, academically and some other things that we wanted to make sure were in a place where he could come back and be part of our team,” Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal in January 2018. “It was a thing between him and I.”

Greenway took the unusual step of returning to junior hockey last season, playing for the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints where he led the team’s defenseman in goals (9) and points (33). He ranked 14th overall among USHL defensemen in scoring, including 10 power-play points.

Maine Coach Red Gendron thinks Greenway can help the Black Bears, who were picked to finish eighth in the 11-team Hockey East in the preseason coaches’ poll.

“I think he’s going to be the kind of defenseman who can play physical and do a great job in our end. He’s a great skater,” said Gendron, who begins his seventh season as Maine coach. “But he’ll also contribute offensively. He’s got a big shot, as well as great feet. I expect him to be an integral part of our game on both sides of the puck.”

Greenway said Maine was the only school he seriously considered transferring to after leaving to Wisconsin.

He also said he learned a lot about himself after taking a literal step back in his hockey career by returning to junior hockey. He has two years of eligibility remaining at Maine.

Now, he’s got to prove he can be a quick fix for Maine’s most inexperienced position.

“After the defensemen left, I didn’t look at it too much differently,” Greenway said. “I knew I was going to have to come here and prove myself and earn a spot in the lineup, regardless if they were here or not. I came here basically with the same attitude. … Nothing’s changed too much.”

So little has changed, in fact, it’s like he’s a freshman again.

“I am living with them in the dorms,” Greenway said. “I’m not going to be here showing them the ropes or anything. It’s a new school for all of us, and we’re just taking it one day at a time. So far it’s been a good transition for all of us.”

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