ORONO — University of Maine men’s hockey coach Ben Barr said he doesn’t think about the Hockey East preseason coaches poll that ranked the Black Bears ninth among the league’s 11 teams.

Senior forward Lynden Breen, recently selected a team captain, saw it differently when asked if he thinks there’s eight teams in the league better than his.

“No. That’s something that’s frustrating. For me, every year is like that,” said Breen, who led Maine last season with 21 goals and 15 assists for 36 points. “That’s extra motivation. We’re going to have expectations from the state here and ourselves, but it’s kind of nice to be underdogs and not have those expectations from everyone else.”

Now in Barr’s third season as head coach, Maine is coming off a 15-16-5 season. That was an improvement from the 7-22-4 record the Black Bears posted in 2021-22, Barr’s first season. Maine went 9-8-4 after Christmas last season, showing improvement but still dropping their final three games of the season, including a 4-2 loss at Alfond Arena to Vermont in the first round of the Hockey East tournament.

The Black Bears will play an exhibition game against rival New Hampshire at Colby College on Oct. 7, and open the regular season at home against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Oct. 12.

With 11 new players on the roster, including eight freshmen, Barr thinks team speed has improved. The Black Bears return nine of their top 11 scorers from last season. Goalie Victor Ostman, an all-Hockey East selection last season, is back, along with junior defenseman David Breazeale, a co-captain with Breen.


“We have a core group of guys who have been doing what we do for a couple of years. That helps bring the younger guys along, when they can help you coach,” Barr said.

The biggest name among the newcomers is Bradly Nadeau. The freshman forward was the Carolina Hurricanes’ first-round pick, 30th overall, in this summer’s NHL draft. At the start of Wednesday afternoon’s intrasquad scrimmage, Breen centered a line with Nadeau on his left and Josh Nadeau, Brad’s brother and also a freshman newcomer, on his right.

“Brad and Josh, they’re unbelievable players. They’ve succeeded wherever they’ve been, and they’re pretty dynamic together. They always seem to find each other. They both have the puck on a string. They make it really easy to play with,” Breen said.

“They’re going to have to adjust quick. Obviously, they’re not going to have as much time and space in this league once we get going. That adjustment, that step for them, is going to be a pretty easy one for them to take. I’m fortunate to play between them right now.”

Brad Nadeau said he doesn’t expect to feel pressure in his first collegiate season.

“The pressure is something you earn. I put myself in the situation. I don’t really want to think about it too much,” Nadeau said. “Sometimes it can hurt you and you don’t perform at your best. To be out here and having the goal of helping the team win is how I handle it this year.”

While Nadeau is the highest-profile recruit at Maine in more than a decade, Barr was quick to point out the newcomer will endure a transition to the college game.

“I don’t think he’s going to feel (pressure). He’s just going to go out and play. There’s a lot of first-round draft picks in college hockey now,” Barr said. “Brad is a fantastic kid, and obviously he’s a good player, but he’s not going to walk in and score three goals a night right from the start. If he does, awesome, but I have yet to see someone do that.”

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