Reducing ticket prices right move for UMaine hockey program

Vacation time is on the horizon for this scribe, a middle-of-summer tradition for scribes everywhere.

While counting down the hours until 4:00 on Friday afternoon, plenty of items in my “barbell bag” to get to across the local and national sports landscape

– Two pieces of big news have centered around the University of Maine men’s hockey program over the last week, the release of the 2016-17 schedule, and the reduction of ticket prices.

In most areas of Alfond Arena, a season ticket will only cost fans $285 this season, and the regular-season home slate includes 15 contests in Orono in addition to the three in Portland. The three Portland games are not included in the season-ticket package.

Being a season-ticket holder, I found this to be great news. While there’s no doubt that winning puts fans in the seats, a college hockey game has to be affordable for people of all ages, including families.

UMaine officials are hopeful the slashing of the ticket prices will bring back season-ticket holders. Last season, the men’s hockey program had only 1,684 season-ticket holders, compared to 2,900 in 2003 and 2,384 in the 2010-11 season.

Winning more games will also bring fans back. Since the Black Bears appeared in the 2007 Frozen Four, the team has made only one NCAA Tournament appearance, a 2012 first-round loss to Minnesota-Duluth. Maine has also compiled a 14-21-5 record at the Alfond.

Coach Red Gendron is in the midst of turning the program around, and most fans are optimistic that the Bears will be on an upward swing this winter.

When Alfond Arena is full, it is one of the best home-ice advantages in all of college hockey. Here’s hoping reduced ticket prices will bring more families out to the games this winter.

– When it comes to basketball coaching in Maine, Gavin Kane’s name is legendary.

It certainly was a shame to hear the news on Wednesday that the longtime coach had stepped down from his position with the Mt. Blue girls.

Kane has amassed more than 500 victories at Mt. Blue, Spruce Mountain, Dirigo and Rangeley High Schools, and is perhaps best known for leading the Dirigo girls program to 11 consecutive regional championships and six state championships. He also assisted Cindy Blodgett at the University of Maine.

According to a Lewiston Sun Journal report, Kane said issues with parents were a source of frustration.

Frankly, it’s a shame that fantastic coaches like Kane continue to hang up their whistles because of issues with parents. Kane is the type of coach I would want my son to play for. I had outstanding coaches like Kane in Dave Jeffrey and Glendon Rand, who were all about hard work.

– Isaiah Harris of Lewiston put on an inspirational performance in the 800-meter final of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials last weekend.

Even though the 19-year-old Harris came up just short of going to Rio, his best years are ahead of him. He was in second place at one point with about 200 meters to go, but ran out of gas.

We still have a chance to send a Maine athlete to the Olympics, with Bangor’s Riley Masters and North Yarmouth’s Ben True set to compete in the 5,000-meter final on Saturday.

– Kevin Durant is not going to be a Celtic. After the team signed free agent Al Horford, Celtic fans figured the writing was on the wall for Durant to come to Boston.

Instead, the NBA’s most coveted free agent in years signed with Golden State. How in the world are Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson all going to share one ball?

– Being a lifelong Notre Dame football fan, it makes me happy to see the Irish rekindling their rivalry with the University of Miami this fall.

The “Catholics vs. Convicts” games of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s were part of what turned this young Irish lad onto college football. College football is just better when the Irish and Hurricanes are in the national championship conversation.

Brian Kelly has done a great job since arriving in South Bend, and Miami is looking to return to its heyday after recovering from the Nevin Shapiro scandal. The hiring of former Georgia coach Mark Richt should help.

– Dave Dombrowski, Red Sox Nation is eagerly waiting for you to make a move for a quality starting pitcher. Much like Sox fans are clamoring for the day that we’ll no longer see Clay Buchholz on Fenway Park’s mound.

– Most NFL training camps open three weeks from now. UMaine hockey’s regular-season opener is three months away. I hate to say it, friends and family who are educators, but summer is flying by and fall sports will be here before we know it. Sorry, Mom!


Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.