The Black Bears dropped the third game of this series against Stony Brook 1-0 in 10 innings after getting the doubleheader sweep on Saturday. Mike Connolly threw 9 innings of shutout baseball, but it just wasn’t enough for Maine as their offense was ice cold at Mahaney Diamond. They face Holy cross on Tuesday before hosting Hartford next weekend here in Orono.
Former Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Tim Whitehead adresses the media at the Shawn Walsh Center Wednesday morning.
The University of Maine announced Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Tim Whitehead has been fired from his position Tuesday afternoon.
Whitehead compiled a 250-171-54 record during his time at Maine, going 96-102-28 in his final six seasons.
University President Paul Fergurson made the final decision to buyout the one year remaining on Whitehead’s contract after a recommendation from Athletic Director Steve Abbott.
“This is about the future of our marquee program. Since 2008, UMaine has experienced declining Hockey East success, season ticket sales and overall ticket revenues, and waning student engagement in men’s ice hockey” said Abbott in a statement Tuesday Afternoon.
“The President and I are committed to ensuring that our Men’s Hockey Program is financially sustainable [and] continues to focus on developing the student-athlete and is known nationally for excellence.”
According to an official release by the university, Whitehead will be paid $195,000 to honor the final year of his deal plus one month’s salary. The money will be paid out of the President’s Discretionary Fund.
The decline in the program’s popularity has been apparent as the number of season ticket holders fell from 3,600 in 2008 to 1,900 this past season.
According to Abbott, average attendance at the Alfond this year was 4,175, the lowest total since the 1991-92 season.
The lack of student attendance was also noticeable to anyone who attended the bulk of this year’s home games.
“We need new energy and direction” added Abbott.
Whitehead’s dismissal comes off a season that saw Maine only notch two wins at Alfond Arena.
The Black Bears started off the 2012-13 campaign with an abismal 2-11-2 record.
The team rallied in the second half, sneaking into the Hockey East Playoffs, with a 9-8-6 record down the stretch.
Maine finished eighth in Hockey East this season, falling to eventual champion UMass Lowell in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Whitehead thanked the university and the community in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Whitehead took over for the late Shawn Walsh in September 2001, finding immediate success. In his first season, Whitehead guided the team to a 26-11-7 record and to the 2002 NCAA championship game where the Black Bears fell to Minnesota 4-3 in overtime.
Over the next five seasons, Whitehead led Maine to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances including three Frozen Four births and another shot at the national title in 2004, only to see his Black Bears fall 1-0 to Denver.
Since then, Maine has only appeared in one NCAA tournament (2012) and has finished 8th or worse in Hockey East three of the last six seasons.
Speaking of Denver, ex. Pioneers head coach George Gwozdecky’s name has been thrown around as a potential replacement along with former Maine great and Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) head coach Jim Montgomery.
Greg Cronin, Scott Pellerin, and current assistant Bob Corkum are other possible candidates to fill Whitehead’s vacant seat.
Cronin is currently an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a former Maine assistant. He served as Maine’s interim head coach in 1995 while Walsh was suspended for recruiting violations. In 2005, Cronin took over as head coach at Northeastern University, winning Hockey East Coach of the Year in 2009. Cronin left Northeastern in the summer of 2011 amidst a recruiting scandal.
Pellerin played at Maine from 1988-1992, winning the Hobey Baker award in his senior season. He is the current head coach of the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Corkum has spent the last four seasons at Maine as an assistant and told the Bangor Daily News that he is interested in the coaching vacancy.
The university will assemble a national search committee to find the program’s next head hockey coach.
Here is a statement from former Maine Men’s Ice Hockey Head Coach Tim Whitehead’s after he was informed of his dismissal:
It has been an honor to serve as the Head Coach of the Men’s Hockey Team at the University of maine for the past 12 years. My family and I feel blessed to have been part of the Maine Hockey family, and we will always cherish the relationships we have built, both at the University and in the Bangor Community. I have been fortunate to surrounded with great players, coaches and staff during my time at Maine. We have fought through a lot of adversity together, but we have always embraced those challenges head on. The mutual respect of our players, coaches, and staff is what matters most to me, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together, both on and off the ice. Competing in 7 NCAA Tournaments, 4 Frozen Fours, and 2 National Championship games were certainly highlights for us, along with our 2004 Hockey East Championship and our 2012 Frozen Fenway victory. Off the ice, we worked hard to establish a culture of academic excellence and social responsibility that we can all be proud of. In addition, we completed the fundraising and construction of the $3.75 million Shawn Walsh Hockey Center in 2005 and the $4.85 million Alfond Arena Renovation Project in 2012. The Maine hockey fans are the best in the country, and they have a lot to look forward to next season and beyond. I love our returning core of players and our incoming recruits. I’m confident this team will build on our strong 2nd half this season, and that they will compete among the top programs in the nation next year.
We will have a full story up later this evening plus live coverage of Whitehead’s 11 AM press conference tomorrow, which can be seen on WMEB Plus.
Bryan, Cody, and Alex sit down to talk about the year that was for the Men’s Ice Hockey team.
Postgame reaction from UMass Lowell’s series clinching victory Friday night.
UMass Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin and Derek Arnold
Tim Whitehead, Martin Ouellette, and Devin Shore
Highlights from Maine’s 2-1 overtime loss to UMass Lowell Friday night in game two of their Hockey East Quarterfinal series.
Here’s Cody Beckett with the week that was in Black Bears athletics
Postagme reaction after Lowell takes game one of the quarterfinal series with Maine.
Lowell Head Coach Norm Bazin (courtesy of Hockey East)