ORONO — Near the end of his third season in the U.S. Hockey League for junior players, Mark Anthoine learned that he was traded, from his Chicago Steel team to Sioux Falls, S.D.

“I was traded on Saturday and had to be there Sunday,” Anthoine said of the eight-hour drive.

No problem for Anthoine, a Lewiston native who, like so many good young hockey players, became a journeyman early.

First came travel teams based in Lewiston, then a freshman season at St. Dominic’s high school, then two years with the Portland Junior Pirates, and nearly three years in Chicago, with a brief visit to Sioux Falls.

And, finally, to Orono.

Anthoine, now a sophomore for the University of Maine, could not wait to begin his college hockey career, for several reasons.

“Not so much the hockey — you just want to be back in life,” Anthoine said. “When you’re playing junior hockey and not going to school, you’re not doing a whole lot of anything — going to a lot of movies and walking a lot of malls, finding ways to kill time.”

At Maine, Anthoine is juggling his business management major with his evolving role with the Black Bears, as they climb back to national prominence.

Anthoine is tied for fourth on the team with nine goals, seven of them coming on the power play.

In Maine’s back-to-back weekend sweeps of Boston College and Boston University, Anthoine played a part in two game-winning goals.

In the 4-3 overtime win over BC two weeks go, Anthoine drove the puck into the zone, then dropped a perfect drop pass to Matt Mangene, who scored (while Anthoine shielded the goalie).

In the 4-2 win over BU, Anthoine tipped a Spencer Abbott slap shot, breaking a tie halfway through the third period.

“He is emerging now as an impact player for us,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “Playing the power play, penalty kill, and key situations.

“I’m really proud of Mark. He’s found ways to help the team. It’s a great success story. He’s had to work hard for it.”

Anthoine had committed to Maine back in his junior year of high school (when he was playing for the Junior Pirates).

But it would be a while before he was ready. He arrived last year, not as a goal-scorer but a regular.

“He was pretty physical, and he drove the net,” Whitehead said. “He didn’t score a lot of points (one goal, three assists). He kept himself in the lineup.

“But we saw another level he could reach.”

Anthoine continued to work in the off-season, improving his skating, skill level and even his physical game — still hitting but with discipline (four penalty minutes, down from 21 last year).

He has helped Maine (13-8-3) recover from a slow start to go 11-2-1 in its last 14 games.

“It’s starting to build — all about putting together the pieces of the puzzle,” Anthoine said. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but I really like the team we have right now.”

This weekend’s games against Alabama-Huntsville might appear to be easy ones for the Black Bears.

Alabama-Huntsville is 1-3 in its last four games, having split a pair at Denver, and then giving top-ranked Minnesota-Duluth all it could handle in 2-1 and 4-3 losses to the Bulldogs, in Duluth.

Alabama-Huntsville goalie Clarke Saunders made 95 saves in the two games against Minnesota-Duluth.

If the Black Bears relax — i.e. rest on their recent accomplishments — they could be in trouble.

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