University of Maine hockey player Ben Poisson Credit: Courtesy of University of Maine

Ben Poisson’s first season with the University of Maine’s hockey team has been productive on and off the ice.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, product has centered one of UMaine’s top two lines while also seeing regular duty on the power play and penalty-killing units.

Off the ice, he discovered new family members living in the Bangor area.

Poisson is the grandson of Houlton native Gib Chapman, whose long college basketball coaching career included stops at the former Ricker College in Houlton, the University of New Hampshire and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Poisson’s mother, Julie, was born in Houlton.

Upon arriving at UMaine, he discovered he had several cousins living near the campus, and they now come to his games and support him.

“I went to lunch with them. It’s nice. I always leave them tickets,” Poisson said.

He gave them plenty to cheer about on Friday night when he scored his first goal and assisted on the game-winning score in UMaine’s 4-2 win over nationally ranked Boston University. It earned him Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors.

“I’m not surprised he’s doing well,” UMaine head coach Red Gendron said. “We felt he was a 200-foot player who could create offense and be reliable defensively.”

Gendron added that every freshman has an adjustment period so you never know how they will perform.

“It took him seven games to register some points, but that doesn’t mean he hadn’t played well. He had played very well,” Gendron said.

“He has been great,” said UMaine senior right wing and captain Mitch Fossier, who has been Poisson’s linemate for much of the season. “He is confident and has a great presence which he carries onto the ice. He takes pride in doing things the right way. He’s physical. He plays stick to puck, and makes a lot of things happen with his size and speed.”

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Poisson and the rest of Black Bears will play two Hockey East games at UMass Lowell this Friday and Saturday .

“I’m not too worried about points. I’ve been contributing in other ways, and I’m going to keep sticking to that,” Poisson said. “I just focus on playing the right way, and if you do that, things will fall into place.”

Poisson had 20 goals and 26 assists in 52 regular-season games for the Prince George Spruce Kings in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League last season, and led them to the playoff championship by racking up 13 goals and eight assists in 17 postseason games.

He has been surprised by his plentiful ice time.

“As a freshman coming in, you don’t expect a whole lot,” Poisson said. “I’ve just worked hard to help the team.”

The son of Shawn and Julie (Chapman) Poisson said he has had to adapt to the size and speed of college hockey players.

“I was one of the biggest players on my team last year, but I’m pretty average here,” he said.

“I’m going to keep working. You can always improve your speed, and you have to make decisions at high speed. And you can always keep learning the system,” he said.

Poisson said he hears from his grandfather, who watches all of his games from his home in Florida.

“He will send me an email after games,” Poisson said. “He’ll mention things I should work on.”