Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop stops a puck during the second period in Game 6 of an NHL second-round hockey playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Dallas. Credit: Tony Gutierrez | AP

Jim Montgomery’s first season as a head coach in the National Hockey League was a successful one.

The former University of Maine All-American and Hobey Baker Award finalist led the Dallas Stars to a 43-32-7 record and a playoff series victory over Nashville before losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis in the Western Conference semifinals.

The NHL season starts Wednesday, and the Stars open at 8:30 p.m. Thursday when they entertain the Boston Bruins. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals and lost to St. Louis in seven games.

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The 50-year-old Montgomery, UMaine’s all-time leading scorer with 301 points and UMaine Sports Hall of Famer, is one of several former UMaine players working in the NHL. That group includes goaltender Ben Bishop (Dallas), goalie Jimmy Howard (Detroit), defenseman Ben Hutton (Los Angeles Kings), and forwards Gustav Nyquist (Columbus) and Devin Shore (Anaheim).

Credit: Tony Gutierrez | AP

Center Chase Pearson (Detroit) and defenseman Brady Keeper (Florida), UMaine’s Nos. 2 and 3 scorers last winter, were sent down to their teams’ American Hockey League affiliates in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Springfield, Massachusetts.

John Tortorella begins his fifth season as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dave Nonis is the assistant general manager of the Anaheim Ducks and Jack Capuano is the associate head coach of the Ottawa Senators.

Bangor resident Capuano was the former head coach of the New York Islanders.

There also are some second-generation pro hockey links to UMaine.

Winger Oliver Bjorkstrand, son of former Black Bear Todd Bjorkstrand, plays for Tortorella and is coming off a 23-goal season with Columbus. Defenseman Steve Santini, son of the former UMaine player of the same name, was traded by New Jersey to Nashville but was waived by the Predators and will play for Milwaukee in the AHL if no other team claims him.

Former UMaine assistant and interim head coach Greg Cronin, a Colby College graduate, is the head coach of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, the affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

Montgomery said this year’s training camp went smoother than last year’s because he had a season under his belt.

“You know what to expect from the players and your staff. You know how to best communicate with them,” he said. “Having been through it before, you also know how to be more efficient with your time.”

The offseason acquisitions of San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, a 38-goal scorer last season, and Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, a six-time 30-goal scorer, has improved the Stars, although Perry is out with a broken foot.

“We’ve added some good elements to our group. On paper, we’re a much better hockey team than a year ago,” Montgomery said.

Dallas scored 209 goals last season, which ranked 29th among 31 teams.

Montgomery said the 35-year-old Pavelski, who has 761 points in 963 career games, is a special player.

“He’s the kind of guy you love to coach,” Montgomery said. “All of his success is built on effort and execution.”

Montgomery said expectations are higher this season, and he learned a ton last season.

“I really have an appreciation for the talent of opposing coaches and players in the league, and how hard of a league it is to have success in,” Montgomery said.

He hired longtime friend John Stevens, his former Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) teammate and mentor, as an assistant coach. Stevens was the former head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

Stevens’ son, John, played for Montgomery when he coached at Dubuque in the United States Hockey League.

“I attended one of his coaching seminars, and he helped get me into coaching. I learned so much from him,” Montgomery said.

Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist for the third time last season, is healthy and has looked real good in the preseason, according to Montgomery.

The 32-year-old Bishop was 27-15-2 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage last season despite batting several injuries. He made 52 saves in the Game 7 double-overtime playoff loss to St. Louis.

The 25-year-old Shore, who was traded by the Stars to Anaheim last season, notched 10 goals and 19 assists between the two teams in 2018-19.

Nyquist, 30, registered 22 goals and 38 assists in 81 games between Detroit and San Jose, and had a goal and 10 assists in 20 playoff games for San Jose.

Hutton, 26, posted five goals and 15 assists in 69 games for Vancouver, and the 35-year-old Howard was 23-22-5 with a 3.07 GAA and a .909 save percentage for the Red Wings.

Vancouver and Detroit did not make the playoffs.