University of Maine back-up goalie Jacob Mucitelli, who started and won the Black Bears’ season-opening game at the U.S. Air Force Academy, has entered the NCAA Division I transfer portal.
Mucitelli transferred to UMaine from Clarkson University in New York.
That news comes as the Black Bears bring in Patriks Berzins, who was the starting goalie for Latvia in the World Junior Championships this past season. He will join UMaine’s two returning goalies in All-Hockey East second team selection Victor Ostman, who will be a senior, and Connor Androlewicz, who is also going to be a senior.
Mucitelli was able to play immediately at UMaine under the NCAA’s one-time transfer rule. Transfers used to have to sit out a year at their new schools but the recent NCAA rule change allows them to play right away if it is their first time transferring.
Since he was a junior this season, Mucitelli will probably have to sit out a year at his new school because this will be his second time he has transferred and he is still an undergraduate. If he was a graduate student, he could play immediately.
“Jacob is a fantastic kid and a great teammate,” said UMaine head coach Ben Barr. “With us bringing in another goalie, he was probably going to be the odd-man out.”
Mucitelli had an impressive debut, making 20 saves in a 4-1 win in Colorado Springs over Air Force.
However, in his next start, he allowed four goals on 20 shots in a 5-1 loss at Bentley and appeared in only two more games after that as Ostman emerged as the No. 1 goaltender.
Mucitelli finished the season with a 1-3 record, a 4.83 goals-against average and a .824 save percentage.
In his previous season at Clarkson, he backed up conference Rookie of the Year Ethan Haider and posted an 8-0-1 record, a 1.30 GAA and a .944 save percentage.
Berzins played very well in the World Junior Championships for Under-20-year-olds, according to Barr.
He compiled a 2.47 GAA and a .914 save percentage while going 2-4. He made 41 saves in a 5-2 loss to the United States.
“He showed he had big-game potential,” Barr said.
UMaine assistant and goalie coach Alfie Michaud said Berzins is athletic, a good competitor and someone who is eager to learn.
”And he’s a great skater,” Michaud added.
Michaud said Berzins proved he could compete against the top junior players in the world during the World Junior Championships.
“He looked fine. He handled stuff,” Michaud said. “He already has that explosiveness, that pop, that enables him to go laterally or up and down.”
He began the season in Danbury of the North American Hockey League, where he was 1-11-1 with a 3.67 GAA and an impressive .920 save percentage.
“That was fantastic for him. He was on a team that wasn’t good so he faced a year’s worth of shots in just half a season,” Michaud said.
After the World Juniors, the 19-year-old moved on to the United States Hockey League with Tri-City where he was 11-3-1 with a 2.66 GAA and an .890 save percentage.
Michaud said being on UMaine’s off-season workout program will help the 6-foot-1, 185-pound goalie get stronger and he will also benefit from working with and learning from Ostman and Androlewicz this season.