ORONO, Maine — University of Maine men’s hockey head coach Red Gendron said the goaltending battle is “wide open,” during the team’s media day Thursday at Alfond Arena.

It was baptism by fire for goalies Sean Romeo and Matt Morris a year ago, and they endured the ups and downs that accompany inexperience.

But they are a year older and are eager to improve on last year’s performances.

“The odds are that the two returnees will get a chance to show us how they’ve improved and we’ll go from there,” Gendron said. “But if [freshman] Rob McGovern plays lights out between now and Oct. 9, he could be in the nets.

“The reason they had their ups and downs was their limited experience. They were certainly much better in the second half,” the third-year coach added.

Romeo, who was a freshman last season, compiled a 7-13-1 record, a 3.04 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. Morris, who played in six games during the 2012-13 season but missed the next season because of hip surgery, was 7-9-2 with a 2.99 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

They have been joined by the 6-foot-4 McGovern.

“I feel much better than I did last year,” said Romeo. “I felt confident at the start of last season, but it was a big learning curve, and it took me a year to adjust. It’s definitely a different game in college. The players are a lot bigger, stronger and faster.”

The 6-foot-1, 178-pound Romeo said he focused on improving his skating in the offseason.

“I’m faster so I’m a lot more comfortable moving around. It has enabled me to be more aggressive and to challenge shooters instead of just sitting back. It will help a lot,” he said.

Morris said he concentrated on “my angles and getting my feet set. You want to get your feet set. You don’t want to be moving [when the shot is taken]. I also did a lot of work on screens. If there are guys in front of me, I’ve got to be able to see around them [to make saves].”

The 5-10, 205-pound Morris didn’t feel he was consistent last season and said his execution “of the fundamentals” is the key.

McGovern said he is “here to compete.”

“Whether I play or not, I’m going to work as hard as I can. And if I’m given a chance to play, I’m going to try to take advantage of it,” said McGovern, who is working on improving “the technical aspect of my game.”

He added that Romeo and Morris have been very helpful.

The goalies’ teammates have been impressed by their progress.

“They found their games at the end of the year and have continued to build on that. They look fantastic,” said senior captain Steven Swavely.

The Black Bears appeared in nine overtime games a year ago, and sophomore forward Malcolm Hayes noted that the experience gained by playing in a lot of close games will help them.

“They know what to expect now. There won’t be any surprises this year,” said Hayes.

Maine opens its season in the Ice Breaker Tourney with an Oct. 9 game against Michigan State and then takes on North Dakota Oct. 10 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Both games begin at 8 p.m.

Maine will hold an intrasquad Blue-White game on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Alfond Arena. It will be two 20-minute halves instead of the usual three 20-minute periods. The game will be preceded by a barbecue at 3 p.m.. Both are free.