Adam Dawe (left) of the University of Maine men's hockey team celebrates with teammate Jakub Sirota after scoring a goal during a 2019 game at Alfond Arena in Orono. Credit: Credit: Courtesy of Peter Buehner Photo

Nine seniors will be honored Saturday night when the University of Maine men’s hockey team entertains Boston University to close out the regular season.

UMaine will come into the weekend series in last place with an overall record of 6-20-4 and a league mark of 4-16-2 while the 14th ranked Terriers are 18-11-3, 12-7-3, and just had an eight-game winning streak snapped by Boston College on Sunday, 3-1.

For the seniors and graduate students who have been here for four or five years, their time in Orono has certainly challenged their mettle. The group includes seven who have been in Orono for at least four years and two transfers who are in their first seasons at UMaine in Keenan Suthers, who transferred from St. Lawrence, and Grant Hebert (Robert Morris).

In the 2019-20 season, they were in good position to reach the Hockey East semifinals for the first time since the 2011-12 campaign as they were hosting UConn for a best-of-three quarterfinal series, with current Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman leading the way.

But the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season just before the quarterfinals.

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The pandemic carried over to last season with state and university guidelines requiring the team to play all 15 of its regular season games on the road.

And on April 9, 2021, head coach Red Gendron collapsed and died while playing golf at the Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono.

Ben Barr became the new head coach after being the associate head coach/recruiting coordinator for the national champion UMass Minutemen.

“Obviously, the past few years have been different,” said senior center-wing Adam Dawe. “We have been through a lot as a class. We had a real good team my sophomore year but the season got cut short. Last year was difficult for everybody. We got the short end of the stick by having to play on the road every weekend. But we took advantage of it. We got closer as a team.”

With the sudden death of Gendron came a new coach who had a different philosophy and regimen.

“The seniors have been great,” said Barr. “They have worked incredibly hard in tough circumstances. They have made me feel comfortable.”

Barr said the seniors have had to adjust more than the underclassmen to the coaching change because they became accustomed to doing things a certain way for four or five years.

“And they have never complained. Their attitudes have remained outstanding and they have helped me a tremendous amount. It would have been easy for them to check out, especially since we haven’t been winning as many games as we wanted to. But they have continued to work hard and get better,” Barr said.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of them and I want to keep playing as long as we can. Anything can happen in a one-game playoff and everybody in our locker room believes we can beat anybody we play and that’s really important.”

The first round of the Hockey East playoffs will be held on Wednesday and the Black Bears will be either the 10th or 11th seed and will hit the road in the one-game playoff format.

Dawe said this weekend will be a memorable one. His family will be coming down from Newfoundland.

“It hasn’t set in yet. I haven’t processed it. As a freshman, I never thought this day would come,” Dawe said about his last regular season series. “It’s a weird feeling. It’s going to be a special weekend, especially playing in front of the amazing Alfond Arena crowd and our student section.”

Dawe has played in 92 career games and has 21 goals and 31 assists. The other long-term seniors are forwards Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (102, 21 & 29), Edward Lindelow (43, 2 & 0), and captain Jack Quinlivan (120, 4 & 10) and defensemen Jakub Sirota (94 games, 7 & 32), Cam Spicer (72, 1 & 6) and Simon Butala (112, 1 & 10). 

Forwards Suthers and Hebert have played 124 and 100 career games between two schools, respectively. Suthers has 20 & 25 and Hebert has 24 & 35.