Denis Collins denied rumors Friday he has stepped down as the coach of the Old Town/Orono High School Black Bears after his ejection from a game Thursday night.
Collins said he was assessed a game misconduct and ejected from Thursday night’s 7-6 loss to Presque Isle at Alfond Arena in Orono as a result of a misunderstanding with referee Matt Daigle.
“There were four minutes left in the game, and we were leading by one. We had just killed off a five-on-three, and then we took another penalty,” said Collins. “One of my assistant coaches, Chris Thurlow, said it was ‘atrocious.’ And I said, ‘Yes, it’s atrocious.’”
At that point, Daigle ejected Collins.
Collins insisted that they were not complaining about the penalty call or directing their comments toward Daigle or the other referee.
He said that they were talking about the predicament their team was in.
“We had one defenseman injured and two in the penalty box,” said Collins.
As mandated by the Maine Principals’ Association, Collins cannot coach the Black Bears’ next game against Brewer on Saturday.
He also said he is required to take a video course, pass a test and report back to athletic directors Mike Archer of Orono and Brett Hoogterp of Old Town.
After completing those steps, he can be reinstated for the Black Bears’ final regular season game against John Bapst of Bangor next Tuesday night.
Presque Isle tied the game on a Jake Stevens power-play goal with 1:14 left, and Stevens fed Denny Young for the game-winner 28 seconds later.
The loss left Old Town-Orono, 6-9, in eighth place, over three points behind 5-11 Presque Isle in the battle for the seventh and last playoff spot in Class B North.
Presque Isle has just one game remaining against league leader Waterville (15-1-1), so the Black Bears will have to win or possibly tie one of their final two games and hope Waterville beats Presque Isle to claim the seventh spot.
Collins, a former Eastern Maine Class A coach of the year, is in his third season coaching the Black Bears. He was formerly the coach at Bangor High School before he was suspended and later resigned three years ago after an incident on a team bus trip to Presque Isle.