Coach Ben Barr’s Open Letter to Maine Hockey Faithful
Coach Ben Barr sent out the following letter to Maine Hockey alumni, and it was subsequently posted in the Facebook Group University of Maine Hockey Fans. It is printed below with Coach Barr's permission
Wednesday, March 8th, was a very tough day for our team as the season came to an end against UVM in a home playoff game. I've had some heartbreaking endings to seasons over the years, but Wednesday was as difficult of a game as I've been a part of. There is a long time between now and our next game to ponder Wednesday's game, but I am fairly sure there was one main reason which I will speak about later in the email. I'm sure many of you can relate to this, but not delivering a win for the Alfond faithful on Wednesday completely broke my heart. The rink had been electric the last few months and seeing people leave disappointed was very difficult. This program is so much bigger than the team as you all know.
Our team finished the regular season in 6th place in Hockey East. We saw signs of growth in the second half of the season, and earning a home ice playoff game was a great accomplishment for a team that was picked to finish last with 16 new players to integrate into the roster. I have coached teams that won the whole thing, and I can honestly say that our team this year gave as much or maybe even more than some of those top teams. The way we were built made it a necessity to be the hardest working team every night, and it was so enjoyable to watch the boys get rewarded at times as the season went along. As a coach, having a hard-working team makes our jobs very rewarding. We had a year-end meeting and I had a hard time speaking to the team two days after the loss - they are a great group of kids. I did not realize this until our Faculty Rep emailed me a few weeks ago, but every member of our team was at the MClub Academic Honor Roll dinner a few weeks back. I believe that speaks to the type of kids we have in the room.
On November 12, our team lost to Merrimack which made our record 2-8-1 at the time. Fast forward a few months to February 25th, and we just swept Boston College to make our record 15-13-5. Going into the final regular season weekend, we had a chance to potentially get a first round bye in the Hockey East playoffs. Fast forward to March 8th, and we just lost our last three games, and the season was over. As a staff, there are a million things that we can dissect about what happened the last three games. I believe that what changed those last three games is Expectations. Until the UMass weekend, there really hadn't been a game since our staff had been here, where we had Expectations. The team earned the ability to have expectations at the end of the year, and for that our staff is extremely proud. Unfortunately, we weren't ready to take that next step and perform with those expectations. What we will remember from the 2022-23 season is that we built a culture that has Expectations as many of you experienced as a Black Bear. I believe we will view this past season as the foundation that allowed Black Bear Hockey to become a national contender again. Our challenge pushing forward is learning how to manage Expectations and push the Standard even further. I believe the boys will do that, and we will be forever thankful for this year's team for the growth they accomplished. Our offseason is way too long, but rest assured that come October: Black Bear Hockey Expectations will be high.