Maine Hockey Journal

Brice O’Connor commits to Maine for 2010

The University of Maine Black Bears men’s ice hockey team has received another commitment from the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs recruiting pipeline. Brice O’Connor, the reigning Eastern Junior Hockey League Defensive Player of Year, announced that he’s joining the Black Bears for the fall of 2010.

“I wanted a school that supported the hockey program, where hockey is number one, and that’s where Maine came into the picture,” said Brice O’Connor. “Everything up there is about the hockey program, and the fans are unbelievable.”

“He’s going to be an impact player for Maine,” said New Hampshire Junior Monarchs Head Coach Sean Tremblay. “He brings a physical element as well as a great stick, and he sees the ice (really well). I think he will be a great (bottom pairing defenseman) immediately for the Black Bears.”

The fact of having former teammates also played a role in choosing Maine.

“The thing that was most attractive to me was that I have four former teammates up there this year,” O’Connor added. “I know the transition will be nice and easy, I will feel right at home.”

“My sophomore year (2011-2012 season), there will be eight former Monarchs on the team.”

With the Monarchs this past season O’Connor had six goals and a league leading 28 assists for defensemen.

“I’ve always been more of a defensive-defenseman, play tight in the (defensive) zone and real physical, O’Connor added. “This past year, I think I developed my offensive game and branched into more of an offensive-defenseman.”

He knows he will have to continue to work on his game before he steps onto campus.

“I am working to get bigger and stronger,” O’Connor said. “Definitely` need to work on my foot speed and decision making.”

“This past year, he really worked on his skill set with the puck,” Tremblay added.

O’Connor originally committed to Providence College, but de-committed because he was looking for a better financial package.

“There were a lot of different reasons behind (the de-commitment),” he said. “It didn’t seem like the best fit and I was looking for more of a financial commitment from the school.”

Tremblay thought O’Connor handle the situation as best he could.

“He handled it like a man,” Tremblay stated. A year and a half ago when (Providence) offered him a scholarship, it was a fair, but at the same time, he really went through the roof development wise.”

I’ve got to give Providence and (Head Coach) Tim Army a lot of credit, they allowed him to do that.”

Leaving the Providence commitment also meant that he wouldn’t play with his brother, Ian O’Connor.

“That was the hardest decision and the biggest loss in everything is not getting to play with my brother,” O’Connor stated. When I was committed to Providence, that was really exciting, but when it came down to it, I had to do what was best for me.”

The coaches at the university also played a pivotal role in getting O’Connor to Orono.

“I know Coach (Bob) Corkum a little bit having coached my brother and I played with his son a little bit,” said O’Connor. Then getting to know Coach (Tim) Whitehead and Coach (Dan) Kurluke, I realized it’s a great environment up there. Just talking to Coach Whitehead, I am much more excited.”

He was also strongly considering the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks.

“I think several schools jumped on him fairly quickly,” said Tremblay.  At this time of year, a kid of Brice’s stature is not hanging on a tree.”

Due to NCAA rules, the University of Maine can’t comment on O’Connor until he signs his Letter of Intent with the school.

Stuart Higgins moved to 2011

Stuart Higgins, who committed to the University of Maine back in the spring of 2008 for the 2010 season has been pushed backed to the fall of 2011.

“After a long and grueling season with the (Youngstown) Phantoms, Coach Whitehead and I agreed that another year would be best for my development and confidence,” Higgins said.

The rookie forward in the USHL had six goals and nine assists in 56 games.

“There has been a major turn around with the phantoms organization, including a new coach,” Higgins added. “So, I am excited about the upcoming year.”

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