LEWISTON — John Racine has spent most of his adult life teaching boys how to become better goaltenders.

If there’s a difference in his latest job, Racine said, it’s that he’ll be instructing men.

Racine, 46, has been named a volunteer assistant hockey coach at the University of Maine. His focus will be specifically on his area of expertise, in the crease.

It’s his first NCAA Division I job but not his first climb to a lofty rung on the coaching ladder. Racine most recently worked in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he coached the Lewiston Maineiacs’ goalies in the franchise’s final season of 2010-11.

“I coached at a high level with the Maineiacs,” Racine said. “It’s pretty even.”

The biggest variation, he noted, is the age of the players.

“In the ‘Q,’ all the players are between 16 to 20, and in some cases even as young as 15,” Racine said. “In college, by the time they start playing if they play two or three years of junior hockey, they’re 19 or 20, and if they stay four years they’re as old as 23 or 24. That’s probably the biggest difference. Division I hockey players are more experienced.”

Maine returns all three of its goaltenders for the 2013-14 season.

Martin Ouellette and Dan Sullivan are seniors. Matt Morris is a sophomore. Ouellette is the incumbent starter. Collectively, the trio logged a 2.57 goals-against average and a save percentage of .911.

“I haven’t met with them yet,” Racine said. “Probably this next week.”

Racine graduated from Saint Dominic Academy in 1985.

With the exception of a brief stint playing semipro hockey, he has turned most of attention to coaching since 1988.

In addition to the Maineiacs, Racine has coached at St. Dom’s and with the Hallowell-based Maine Moose junior team.

He has taught his own instructional program, John Racine Goalie Development, and worked with Rousseau’s Hockey Clinics.

College hockey and the storied Maine program were always an aspiration, and the door opened with coach Tim Whitehead’s departure after the 2012-13 campaign.

“I’ve always known I would like to coach at this level,” Racine said. “We all kind of knew Coach Whitehead wasn’t going to be coming back, and usually when that happens the whole staff gets rearranged. So that opened up a few channels.”

Racine benefited from the close friendship between new Maine coach Red Gendron and former Maineiacs head man J.F. Houle.

“J.F. was pivotal in this,” Racine said. “He knows Red very well and gave me a great recommendation. Those two have a connection.”

The hiring of Racine completed Gendron’s inaugural Black Bears staff.

Maine previously hired Jay Leach and Ben Guite for the full-time assistant positions.

“It’s a real honor, especially to work with a guy like Coach Gendron,” Racine said. “I think if you look at the entire staff, putting Coach Leach and Coach Guite in the mix, all those guys have NHL experience.”

Hockey will remain an avocation for Racine, rather than a career choice. He is an assistant manager with Shaw’s Supermarkets.

Technology and the ability to teleport will allow Racine to maintain a consistent presence in Orono.

“I still have a full-time job. I’ll go up one or two days per week, probably, and certainly as many games as I can get to,” Racine said. “If I can’t go to a game, I can stream it online and get in contact with the goalies between periods if need be. It’s kind of high-tech now.”

For now, Racine is catching up with game film.

In addition to watching his own goalies at work, he’s taking stock of rival players and their habits.

“I’ll also watch the other goalies in the league and see what they’re doing,” Racine said. “Every goaltender has tendencies.”

After a quarter-century of keeping a watchful eye, he would know.

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