ORONO, Maine — An established starter, a returnee who played in just three games last season and a transfer with impressive numbers are battling to become the University of Maine men’s hockey team’s No. 1 goaltender.
Junior Victor Ostman started 19 games a year ago and came on in relief in two more. He posted a 5-14-1 record with a 3.31 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
Connor Androlewicz, also a junior, made his first career start last season and beat Alaska-Fairbanks 4-2, stopping 27 shots. He started the next game against UMass Lowell but allowed three goals in the first period and was replaced by Ostman. He finished with a 3.41 GAA and a .880 save percentage.
Jacob Mucitelli, a sophomore transfer from Clarkson University, backed up 2020-21 ECAC Rookie of the Year Ethan Haider last year and was 8-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and a .944 save percentage and three shutouts.
The Black Bears goaltending needs to improve upon last year’s performance, when only 11 of the 59 Division I teams allowed more goals than UMaine. The Black Bears allowed an average of 3.36 goals-per-game a year ago en route to a 7-22-4 season and surrendered four or more goals in 16 games.
University of Maine second-year head coach Ben Barr has addressed the issue by bringing in six mobile defensemen along with former 6-3, 195-pound Clarkson back-up goalie Mucitelli. The sophomore from Deerfield, New York, will join Swede Ostman and St. Louis native Androlewicz, who is 6-2 and 200 pounds, in the competition for the job.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ostman was 3-6-1 in 11 starts his freshman year with a 3.77 GAA and .902 save percentage.
Barr has installed cameras behind the goals in practice to clean up the goalies’ performances.
“We had so many things going on and we were trying to plug holes here and there” last year that goaltending wasn’t properly addressed, Barr said.
“It wasn’t the goalies’ fault.”
Barr said he doesn’t need them to play like Hockey Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek but just make simple saves, control rebounds and compete.
He said Ostman and Androlewicz have improved and Mucitelli has also looked good.
“I just hope one of them turns into a bonafide starter,” the coach said.
Ostman said he wants to be more consistent than he was in his first two seasons.
He said he elevated his game at the end of last season “and I want to start off strong this year and keep building from there.”
Androlewicz is entering the season feeling very confident about his game.
“I want to become the best first-save goalie I can be,” Androlewicz said. “The rest will take care of itself. I just have to make sure the first shot doesn’t go in.”
Mucitelli saw just 8:34 of playing time two years ago at Clarkson before seeing more time last season. He said he wants to earn the team’s confidence so that when he’s in the net, his teammates will trust him to win games.
“I have two great goalie partners here and we push each other every day. We all want to be the starting goalie and that creates a good environment in which we all put in the work because we want to win games,” Mucitelli said.
Mucitelli is working with UMaine goalie coach Alfie Michaud for the first time.
“When he is on the ice with us, he nitpicks but it’s good for us. We have to be on top of our game. He is there for us,” Mucitelli said.
Ostman said they will benefit from a deeper and improved defense corps that can skate the puck out of the defensive zone.
“I’m excited about where we’re at with our goaltending,” said UMaine sophomore defenseman and assistant captain David Breazeale, who was chosen to the Hockey East All-Rookie team last season. “It’s going to be a really good battle between them.”
Junior center and assistant captain Lynden Breen is confident the trio will help win the Black Bears some games this year.
“They are giving it their all every day in practice. I’m sure they will all get their chance.”
UMaine hosts the University of Prince Edward Island for an exhibition game at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and opens the season in Colorado in the Ice Breaker Tournament against the Air Force Academy on Friday, Oct. 7, and against defending national champ Denver on Saturday, Oct. 8.