FALMOUTH — At the 10th tee at Falmouth Country Club, Jeremy Swayman saw two fans and laughed with delight. The two men wore stitched together hockey jerseys: one side Boston Bruins, one side University of Maine, all Swayman.

Now a goalie with Boston, Swayman is back in Maine for the Drive Fore Kids golf tournament. Friday morning, Swayman played a relaxed round in the celeb-am portion of the event. Throughout the round, Swayman stopped to sign autographs, pose for photos and chat with fans. The former Black Bear netminder, who was runner-up for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player in 2020, loved all of it.

“I feel like it’s home. It does feel like homecoming to me. Every time, I see the same fans and new fans. It’s just unbelievable. They’re always saying stories of when I was up there (in Orono),” Swayman said.

Now four years removed from his last game at Maine, Swayman has earned a place among the top goalies in the NHL. His .916 save percentage in the 2023-24 regular season was sixth-best in the league, and his 2.53 goals-against average was ninth-best. In the playoffs, Swayman was even sharper. After splitting goaltending duties throughout the regular season with Linus Ullmark, Swayman started 12 of Boston’s 13 playoff games, posting a .933 save percentage and 2.15 GAA.

A restricted free agent this offseason, Swayman has made it clear his preference is to remain in Boston.

“I’m leaving it to my agent. I have a lot of great people in my corner that I really trust,” Swayman said. “My opinion is widespread that I want to be a Bruin forever, and that’s what I’m really looking forward to, and I’m going to do everything I can in my power to do so.”


Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman, right, reacts after Peter Horch, back to camera, sank a putt on the fifth hole Friday. Steve Whitney, in foreground, Taylor Canaday, left, and Eric James, behind Horch, all played with Swayman on Friday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

In Swayman’s eyes, any success he’s had as a professional stems from his time at Maine, where he played for the late Red Gendron, who died April 9, 2021, just days after Swayman made his Bruins debut.

It was Gendron who convinced Swayman, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, to come to Maine. Gendron flew to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Swayman played juniors, to meet with the goalie and his family on a Sunday afternoon. Other coaches from major programs talked to Swayman about playing time and getting ready for the next level.

Not Gendron. Swayman remembers it as the most wholesome, true and honest conversation he’s ever had. It’s the conversation that changed his life.

“He said, ‘My priority is to make you a better human being.’ When my dad heard that, you can only imagine his reaction. I heard it, too, and I said, that’s different,” Swayman said. “For him, it was never promises. It was always opportunity. The honesty and overall trueness of his words, that’s what stands out to me the most.”

Swayman played three years at Maine, and in 2020, his play in net had the Black Bears on the cusp of their first NCAA tournament since 2012. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the tournament, however, and Maine didn’t get back to the NCAAs until this past season.

Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman autographs a jersey after playing the ninth hole during the Drive Fore Kids golf tournament on Friday at Falmouth Country Club. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“That’s something that stings to this day, the unknowing. That year was one of the best years of my life in hockey, and life in general,” Swayman said.


Swayman is still close to Alfie Michaud, Maine’s goaltending coach. Michaud was between the pipes in 1999 when Maine won its last national championship. They talk at least once a week, Swayman said, and he enjoys hearing Michaud’s assessment of the team. Swayman follows the Black Bears closely, and tries to get out to see them when they have a game in the Boston area, if his schedule allows it.

The mental side of the game is where Swayman thinks he’s improved the most since leaving Orono. He knows some days the puck looks like a beach ball, and others it looks like a marble.

“It’s always a glass half-full mentality. When you let in a bad goal, or a goal in general, what’s the next save going to look like? That’s all I care about. The next save, the next shot at key moments in the game that’s going to help my team win,” Swayman said. “One of Red’s best quotes, in my opinion, was ‘You can’t buy experience at Target.’ So that’s what I’m doing now. All these years, I’m keeping that experience banked. Building it, building it, building it.”

He tries to get to Orono a few times each summer. He plans to go in August to catch up with Michaud and skate with some of the current players who are on campus for the summer.

“I love touching the Alfond (ice). It’s always good to get back up there,” Swayman said.

When his round was complete, Swayman sat in his golf cart for 15 minutes, signing autographs and meeting fans. Being one of the most popular people at a golf tournament that includes superstars from across sports and entertainment was humbling, he said.

But that’s what happens when you come home.

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