Alfie Michaud’s performance in the 1999 Frozen Four will resonate with University of Maine hockey fans for a lifetime.
Winning championships are sweeter when they come against your rivals, and thanks to Michaud’s efforts between the pipes in Anaheim, the Black Bears were able to defeat Hockey East nemeses Boston College and New Hampshire to claim the program’s second championship.
Michaud is one in a long line of talented goaltenders – Garth Snow, Mike Dunham, Jimmy Howard and Ben Bishop, to name a few – to pass through Orono. When the University announced earlier this week volunteer goaltending coach Ray Jean was leaving, a lot of fans were quick to vocalize Michaud would be a no-brainer for the position.
On Wednesday, UMaine announced that Michaud would be joining head coach Red Gendron’s staff starting this fall. It brought smiles to faces around Black Bear Nation.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a home run for the program and for goaltenders Matt Morris, Rob McGovern, Sean Romeo, Tyler Johnson and newly committed Stephen Mundinger.
Not only is Michaud a former Black Bear, he has been through the rigors of what it takes to win. He played professionally for more than a decade. He also excelled under the tutelage of Grant Standbrook, arguably the greatest recruiter college hockey has ever seen. Standbrook was also outstanding in working with goaltenders. Michaud learned quite a bit from the likes of Standbrook and Shawn Walsh, and he’ll be ready to pass that wisdom down to this generation of Black Bears.
Over the last few seasons, goaltending has been a very inconsistent position for Maine. McGovern showed some flashes of a top-notch goaltender during his freshman campaign – his performance against North Dakota in the IceBreaker tournament easily his best – but endured some bumps along the way. He gave Maine a chance to win both games in a first-round playoff loss to Hockey East champion Northeastern. Morris has had some solid games here and there, but needs to be a little bit more consistent. Morris is going into his senior year, so hopefully he can use his experience to improve.
While only time will tell what will happen with the goaltending when the puck drops again in October, there’s no question Maine fans should be excited for Michaud’s homecoming. The crop of Black Bear goaltenders will be very fortunate to have a guy with Michaud’s experience to learn from. Having Michaud on board on Maine’s staff should help improve the goaltending position, arguably the most important in hockey.
Welcome home, Alfie!