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Talking hockey and more with UMaine’s Jeremy Swayman

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Talking hockey and more with UMaine’s Jeremy Swayman (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Swayman/Twitter)

ORONO - This week, I got the chance to sit down with Jeremy Swayman, a freshman goalie for the University of Maine Black Bears hockey team.

In addition, the 18-year-old Alaskan was taken in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft with the 111th pick by the Boston Bruins.

Swayman played the 2016-17 hockey season for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, posting a .914 save percentage and a 2.90 goals against average. He attended Bruins development camp earlier this summer; fellow Black Bear goalie Rob McGovern was there as well.

The Maine Edge: How have you adapted to Maine coming all the way from Alaska?

Jeremy Swayman: It is definitely a higher level of play, obviously. There are more mature guys. It is the pinnacle for a lot of guys and what they want to achieve at a young age. So, I want to take that route of the college hockey experience. I have come in here with a mind to win games and get better and improve my game and hopefully get to the next level. I see every tool necessary for me to get there [at UMaine].

TME: What’s been your daily routine since arriving to UMaine?

JS: We have workouts at 7 a.m., we get an early workout and we are taking two classes. It is basically getting to know how the system works, how the schooling works. Having a good group of freshman is also a positive. It is a pretty packed day usually. No downtime, which is good to an extent … we are always on task getting used to the college system. It’s been fun.

TME: What drew you to UMaine?

JS: Coach Gendron. He is hands-down a phenomenal recruiter. He has a great past. [Ben] Guite - and Coach Leach when he was here - were extremely good at recruiting and they had everything I wanted and that I was looking for. They really gave me no doubt as to why I came here and what I wanted to achieve while I was here.

TME: Was the atmosphere of the Alfond and Maine hockey something that drew you to coming to UMaine?

JS: Without a doubt, no hesitation. I saw a game last season in October vs Xavier and it was a packed house in an exhibition game on a Sunday. It was unbelievable. It is an older barn, but it’s got so much history and I absolutely thrive on that. Old-time college hockey. [A]nd being able to skate on it the last week has been so amazing and just kind of picturing what it is like to be absolutely packed is really exciting for me.

TME: Did the strong goalie history of UMaine - with guys like Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, and Scott Darling all having NHL jobs - help convince you to come to UMaine as well?

JS: Absolutely. I definitely want to follow in that tradition as well. Just knowing that Maine has three active goalies in the NHL … says a lot about how they run their program and what they do for goaltenders. Having [Assistant Coach] Alfie Michaud here this year will help me in many different ways. I will take any advice and learning tool I can from him.

TME: Can you explain to us your draft night experience?

JS: It was 5 a.m. my time in Alaska. I was at the breakfast table with family and we were watching online and all of a sudden I get a text for my family advisor and he was like “Hey, congrats man, you are a Bruin.” That was a pretty cool experience. My computer lagged a little bit, so I didn’t see it pop up until four minutes later. I wasn't sure if it was true and then finally I got the calls and everything was real.

TME: What was your experience like at Bruins development camp, playing alongside guys who have already had successful college careers?

JS: I picked everyone's brain, especially the veteran players. I just wanted to learn what they have been through and what it is like to be closer and closer to the next level. [Incoming sophomore at Harvard] Ryan Donato definitely took me under his wing. Jack Becker, too. He was on my team at Sioux Falls and he told me kind of the way it went for him the last two years. It was a pretty cool experience. Everyone was friendly and it was a really good family-based environment.

TME: Did you get pretty well acquainted with your fellow Maine goalie Rob McGovern?

JS: We talked. He was a great leader to me. He reached out and when I picked his brain about Maine, he answered my questions. He told me what to expect and how things roll. I couldn’t be more excited. I think we will be a good one-two punch in the league.

TME: What's it like for you getting to play in Hockey East with the Bruins being right around the corner?

JS: I couldn’t be happier. Obviously, the geography of where they are at and where I am at is perfect. I’m gonna be in Boston a lot and I’ve already fallen in love with the city. I’m just working every day to get to the real deal and obviously play in the TD Garden one day. Just knowing they are right down the road is a really good feeling and I want to do whatever I can to get to that next level.

TME: Are you focused on or worried at all about earning playing time as a goalie?

JS: I approach every season like I am gonna play and like I’m gonna be the man. I am gonna be a competitive guy no matter what, as well as a great teammate. I have been kinda through the system of playing with good goalies and trying to beat them out is a good healthy competition. I am here to play as well as McGovern. Whatever it takes to win hockey games. I definitely want to be a part of it.

Q. Recently, Maine hockey has been in a slump. When I was growing up, they went to the Frozen Four five out of nine years between 1999 and 2007 and made the NCAA tournament each one of those years. They have since made one NCAA tournament in ten years. Are you hoping to return Maine to the NCAA tournament, frozen four or even a national championship?

A. Without a doubt. We have a really good freshman class coming in. Last season they had the second highest point production from a freshman class in NCAA hockey and so I think coach Gendron as recruited really well. I want to do everything I can to get to that frozen four championship with this team. Winning is what I am here for and that is what I hope to do.

(The UMaine hockey season starts on Oct. 1 with an exhibition game against Acadia at Alfond Arena. The regular season opens on Oct. 6 with a game against UConn.)

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