Maine Fires Longtime Men’s Hockey Coach
Orono, Maine — The University of Maine yesterday announced the firing of men’s hockey coach Tim Whitehead after 12 seasons, saying the university needs to look in a new direction for a program known for producing National Hockey League standouts such as Paul Kariya, Dustin Penner and Ben Bishop.
The university will use up to $195,000 in privately raised money from the president’s discretionary fund to buy out the final year of a four-year contract extension negotiated in 2010.
Athletic Director Steve Abbott said he and president Paul Ferguson are committed “to ensuring that our men’s hockey program is financially sustainable, continues to focus on developing the student-athlete, and is known nationally for excellence.”
“This is about the future of our marquee program,” Abbott said.
“Since 2008, Maine has experienced declining Hockey East success, season ticket sales and overall ticket revenues, and waning student engagement in men’s ice hockey.”
Whitehead, who had a record of 250-171-54 at Maine, took the team to the national championship game, losing in overtime, in an emotional first season as interim coach after coach Shawn Walsh died from cancer.
He later coached another championship game, and his teams made four Frozen Four appearances.
But his teams had losing records for the past six seasons, finishing 11-19-8 before failing to advance in the Hockey East playoffs this year.
In a statement, Whitehead said it was an honor to serve at Maine, and he told fans that they’ll have a lot to look forward to in the coming season.
Maine was just 7-12-8 in Hockey East this season, a disappointing finish in a year where the league seemed up for grabs. Massachusetts-Lowell won the conference regular-season and tournament titles, and will play in the Frozen Four this week in Pittsburgh, along with St. Cloud State, Quinnipiac and Yale.
Indiana Star NBA-Bound
Bloomington, Ind. — Indiana’s Victor Oladipo made it official yesterday: He’s headed to the NBA.
The junior first-team All-American announced his decision during a news conference inside Assembly Hall.
Oladipo, who is on track to graduate in May, was the Hoosiers’ second-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points to go along with 6.3 rebounds per game.
Louisville Ace Bolts
Louisville, Ky. — Junior guard Russ Smith will leave Louisville early to enter the NBA draft, according to his father.
Russ Smith Sr., said the Cardinals’ leading scorer “did it all” during a college career that culminated with Louisville’s 82-76 victory over Michigan on Monday night for the NCAA championship.
That title, two Big East crowns and an all-conference first-team selection this season completes a resume he said made it easy for his son to move on to the next level.
Arguments on Concussions
Philadelphia — Former NFL players trying to sue the league over concussion-linked injuries argued in court that the NFL “glorified” violence and profited from damaging hits to the head.
Players’ lawyer David Frederick also called the NFL’s brain-injury committee “a sham” that spread misinformation.
Frederick’s remarks came in a pivotal hearing yesterday in Philadelphia on lawsuits filed by about 4,200 former players and their families.
Some players are suffering from dementia or depression, and fault the league for rushing them back on the field.
NFL lawyer Paul Clement said the teams bear primary responsibility for health and safety under the players’ contract. And he said injury claims belong in arbitration under the collective bargaining agreement.
U.S. 3, Netherlands 1
The Hague, Netherlands — Christen Press scored twice and the U.S. women’s team beat the Netherlands in an exhibition last night that extended the Americans’ unbeaten streak to 31 games.
The Americans tied Germany 3-3 Friday in the opening of the two-game tour, and in his eighth game since taking over U.S. coach Tom Sermanni made 10 changes to the starting lineup and kept his most experienced players on the bench.
U.S. Wins World Title
Ottawa — Amanda Kessel scored the winner early in the third period and the United States beat Canada 3-2 in the gold medal game of the women’s world hockey championship yesterday.
The sister of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel moved in on a 2-on-1 and roofed a shot over goalie Shannon Szabados at 3:09 of the third.
Brianna Decker and Megan Bozek had the other goals for the U.S., which got two assists from Kendall Coyne.
Courtney Birchard and Caroline Ouellette scored for Canada. Marie-Philip Poulin added a pair of assists.
U.S. goalie Jessie Vetter made 14 saves for the win, while Szabados stopped 27 shots.