OFFENSE: Speed and puck-handling were the standout skills I saw, led by team captain Michel Leveille, who is an absolute burner. Forwards Wes Clark, Mike Hamilton and Brent Shepheard are very fast with some nifty stick moves. Juniors Keenan Hopson and Rob Bellamy are great passers and have a nose for the puck. Defenseman Mike Lundin has a heavy slapshot from the point that seems to generate some nice rebounds on the power play. So far, the Black Bears have had no trouble scoring. The intensity level on the offensive attack is very high. They don't appear to quit on plays or get complacent holding a lead.
DEFENSE: Joining the talented Lundin, Super-sized soph Simon Danis-Pepin (6'7" 221 lbs) and senior Travis Ramsey (6'4" 211 lbs) bring the noise in the defensive zone. Ramsey skates like a two-way forward with some nice passing skill for a defenseman and he finishes his checks. Denis-Pepin is huge and uses his size to push opponents off of the puck as if they were small children. He does lack speed and will need to develop his awareness during an incoming offensive attack. With an expanded role and more playing time this season (23 games in '05-06) he should have the opportunity to do just that. Additionally on defense, don't miss scrappy 5'9" junior Bret Tyler, who plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate.
GOALTENDING: Big Ben Bishop begins his sophomore campaign after a fantastic 2005-06. The 6'7" keeper notched a 21-8-2 record last year with a 2.28 GAA and .907 save percentage. His size obviously makes him a tough goaltender to beat, but what Bishop needs to work on his staying in the net. He still tends to wander out of the crease and play the puck recklessly. Though he is an excellent puck handler, there are occasions where Bishop will play out of position and runs the risk of giving up an empty net goal. It looks like he's improving in this area, and if he puts up numbers similar to last year, you can expect the Black Bears to be playing in another NCAA Tournament.
DIAPER DANDIES: The future is assured in Orono with slick forward Zach Sills (6'0" 187) and big defenseman David de Kastrozza (6'3" 200). The superstar of this bunch though could be Teddy Purcell (6'3" 177). The freshman forward scored two goals tonight and seemed to be around the net the whole game. Remember the name. He's going to be a good one.
That's all I got. I'm no sportswriter. It's just one man's opinion.
(cross-posted in blackbearhockey & hockeyeast)