University of Maine vs Alaska at Alfond Arena Friday, January 7, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Anthony Calafiore, who helped lead the New Jersey Titans to a North American Hockey League championship victory, said making a verbal commitment to attend the University of Maine wasn’t a difficult decision.

He is expected to join the program in the fall of 2023, and he will be a scholarship player.

“Ben Barr is a real good coach with a good background, and I really want to play for him and play in Hockey East,” said the 5-foot-9, 170-pound winger from Staten Island, New York

“I know they are in a rebuilding phase and that Coach Barr just got there (a year ago). He’s looking to build something special, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” added Calafiore. “It was a pretty easy decision.”

He knows Barr is bringing in 15 players between transfers and recruits for this coming year’s team, so there are going to be a lot of opportunities for incoming players the next few years.

“I’m excited about that,” he said.

He is also looking forward to playing in front of the energetic Alfond Arena crowd.

Calafiore notched 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points in 52 games for the Titans during the regular season. He led the team in goals, points per game (1.13), power play goals (7) and game-winning goals (7) and was tied for second in points.

He also had four goals and six assists in 13 playoff games and was tied for fourth on the team in points with 10. Last season’s championship victory was the first time the Titans had won the junior league’s Robertson Cup.

Two seasons ago, Calafiore, who just turned 20 years old, had 17 goals and 16 assists for 33 points in 49 games for the Titans, along with two goals and two assists in five playoff contests.

Craig Doremus, New Jersey’s general manager and head coach, said the Black Bears have landed a “diamond in the rough” in Calafiore.

“He is fearless. He reminds me of (former Black Bear) Joey Diamond. He can skate, he has a high hockey IQ and he has a great work ethic,” said Doremus. “He played in all situations for us.”

Doremus said Calafiore can both score goals or be a playmaker.

Calafiore isn’t sure where he will play this coming season. He could return to the Titans or maybe seek a spot in another league like the United States Hockey League.

He knows there is going to be an adjustment when he makes the leap from junior hockey to college hockey, and he is preparing for it.

“I’ve got to continue to get stronger and faster. I know college hockey is a little quicker and heavier,” he said.

Calafiore’s coming to UMaine is dependent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.