ORONO — Twenty years ago, an unheralded Alfie Michaud backstopped the University of Maine hockey team to its second NCAA championship. Now the goaltending coach for the Black Bears, Michaud sees a little of himself in the latest addition to the program’s impressive goaltending lineage.

Jeremy Swayman arrived last winter as a virtual unknown before assuming the No. 1 job at Alfond Arena as a true freshman. Michaud sees in Swayman a goalie who could lead Maine back to prominence in Hockey East and nationally.

“That was always the case in my career,” said Michaud, who won 28 games in 1998-99. “I led the nation in wins that year and I never got all-Hockey East or anything like that. We were so good defensively, I think guys got overlooked. We were a powerhouse. I knew that in most of the games I was going to see 24 to 26 shots a night, and I was probably only going to have to make six tough saves. That’s fine. At the end of the day we got what we wanted.”

And one of the things Michaud loves most about Swayman, a fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins in 2017, is the goalie’s view of the bigger picture after appearing in 31 games as a freshman last season, winning 15.

“That’s where Jeremy has his head right. It’s not individual stuff with him,” Michaud said. “At the end of the day it’s about being able to raise that trophy. That’s what he’s striving for. It’s about work and one day at a time, and taking care of today.”

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Swayman fits the mold of a modern goaltender. He’s 6-foot-2, lanky and athletic. That he was overlooked by many before getting to Maine is understandable; he played only one full season of junior hockey on a team that missed the playoffs in 2016-17.

Eleven goalies were selected ahead of him in his draft year.

When he got to Maine, Coach Red Gendron hoped Swayman simply would add to the goaltending mix.

“With everyone that gets recruited there’s the anticipation they will be able to perform at this level,” Gendron said. “The thing that usually differs with each individual is how long it takes.”

For Swayman, it took virtually no time at all.

“I came in with confidence,” Swayman said. “I learned that at a young age, to have confidence to get in there and take the No. 1 job. That’s helped me throughout my career, wanting to be that No. 1 guy and get in there, and consistently stop pucks. It’s kind of a simple thing, right? But that’s all I’ve wanted to do.

“The guys in the locker room helped me a ton, the veteran guys especially. They welcomed me with open arms, and the coaching staff gave me every opportunity to succeed and be in that position to be the guy. I totally ran with it.”

Swayman ended up with a 15-12-3 record, a 2.72 goals- against average and a .921 save percentage, which ranked third overall in Hockey East last season.

Maine, which finished 11th in the 12-team league the season before Swayman’s arrival, jumped to fifth last year.

The Black Bears will begin the 2018-19 season at home Oct. 12 against St. Lawrence for the first of two weekend games. The Hockey East portion of the schedule starts with two games at Connecticut on Oct. 26-27.

Senior defenseman Rob Michel noticed almost immediately last season that Swayman was different, taking particular note of Swayman’s impact on how the Black Bears played in front of him.

“He seemed very mature. He fit right in,” Michel said. “In my experience, having that calm, cool and collected guy, like Jeremy and the traits that he has, it helps our team kind of settle in

” He’s always dialed in and locked in, which in turn makes us work harder in the defensive zone. For this team, especially, having that presence in the net is huge for us.”

Swayman’s credentials as a goaltender already extend beyond Maine. He was a member of the bronze medalist Team USA at the IIHF world junior championships in December, and participated in the Boston Bruins’ development camp in June.

Mike Dunham, who with Garth Snow, was Maine’s goalie for its first national championship in 1993, is now the Bruins’ goaltending development coach.

“Mike Dunham has taken me under his wing,” Swayman said. “Having a duo with Mike Dunham and Alfie Michaud – you can’t ask for much more than that as a goalie.

“I’m so lucky to have that available to me.”

Swayman, who will turn 20 years in late November, takes nothing for granted.

“I’ve always had an underdog mentality, and that’s how I usually play,” Swayman said. “I’ve been fortunate to play on teams that gave up a few more shots than most, and I took advantage of that.

“Honestly, I’m thankful for that. Seeing more shots per game, I got more experiences, more opportunities to get better. Each team I’ve been on has had characteristics of winning but not having that top-dog mentality.”

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