UMaine Athletics

Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman opened eyes at Maine, and one day he plans to do so in Boston, too

Cameron Kerry
July 20, 2018 - 10:19 am
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True freshman Jeremy Swayman stepped onto the University of Maine's campus, seized the starting goaltender role, and led the team to its first winning season since 2013-14.

The 2017 fourth-round pick of the Bruins caught the attention of scouts while playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL prior to college due to his eye-popping quickness and strong use of his glove and blocker. A 6-foot-3 frame helps Swayman cut down shooting angles.

“We knew he was a really good prospect coming in, we knew he had the potential to (play so many games)," said Maine forward Mitchell Fossier, who attended Bruins development camp on an invite basis. "I think there’s always an adjustment to the next level up and you never know what’s going to happen. He certainly stepped in and proved himself right away.”

While Swayman was expected to see time between the pipes, no one anticipated that he would put a stranglehold on the starting position. From his first moments after enrolling, he proved determined to be the starter.

"I think our thought, our belief, was that he was going to split time in Maine and get half the games," Bruins director of player personnel Jamie Langenbrunner said. "He went in there and grabbed it. He played fantastic. You talk to the coaching staff there and I think that was their plan also, to play about 18-20 games, and he earned much more than that. He was probably their best player. That was great."

Swayman attributes his desire to play night in and night out to his competitiveness. He wants to own the net.

"Going into every year, I want to secure a starting job," Swayman said. "It's just a competitive edge I have. I was really fortunate to get every opportunity to get that job with the University of Maine."

Swayman snatched every opportunity in Orono. He earned seven Hockey East honors and a handful of Pro Ambitions accolades. His .921 save percentage was tied for 14th among goaltenders in Division 1 college hockey this past season and fourth among freshmen. In his first season playing in one of college hockey's toughest conference's, Swayman buoyed his team and proved that the Bruins did not reach for him in the fourth round.

"A kid that’s continued to work, he looks bigger and stronger in the net right now," Langenbrunner said. "He’s filling out nicely. His competitiveness, he saw a lot of shots last year and held them in a lot of games. He’ll continue this year maybe a little ahead of where we projected possibly, but he was drafted in that slot for a reason. I think the scouts believed he could play and he’s shown it."

Swayman has stood out with his impressive play at development camp. He was aggressive, cutting down shooters' angles to appear big in the net. His strong lateral quickness allows him to move from post-to-post quickly.

"Especially in the development camp, I like to play with different depths," elaborated Swayman. "You know, challenging the shooter, making it hard for them to see the net, and reacting when they make the first move. I'm trying new things here and coach Mike Dunham has been huge for me confidence-wise."

A large key to Swayman's success has been absorbing the knowledge given to him by his coaches. He spoke repeatedly about how the tips that University of Maine goaltending coach Alphie Michaud and Bruins director of goaltender development Mike Dunham, who played at the University of Maine, have taken his game to another level. He is a sponge with information, soaking everything it, and then works to apply it.

“I’ll take a lot of his [Mike Dunham] keys into my game next year at UMaine. He, along with Alphie Michaud have been so beneficial for my game; simplifying everything, wrapping it into a whole. I’ve been so fortunate to work with him and we will definitely continue the relationship going into next year as well.”

He talks to both coaches regularly, whether it be about tidbits on or off the ice. He values each of their insights as mentors.

"He played the game for a long time and he's had all the experiences that I want to go through," Swayman said about Dunham. "You can have one conversation with him that could change your life."

Swayman will return to the Orono for his sophomore season after training back home in Alaska, where he balances preparation with hiking and fishing. Despite a quiet summer, Swayman is determined to build upon his strong freshman campaign, where he boosted a previously struggling Maine team. Swayman believes he can backstop his team to greater heights.

"To win the national championship," Swayman answered, regarding his goals for this upcoming campaign. "It's guys like Mitch Fossier that can make that happen. We have depth at every position, our coaching staff is on the same page. It's a really good environment, great locker room to be in, and I'm excited for what is to come."

Fossier echoed Swayman's sentiments, proving to be a zealot in pursuit of hoisting the hardware. Fossier lead the Black Bears in goals, assists, and points. A quick skater with a nose for finding the puck, he will be counted on to produce at a high level.

"Excited for next season, to get back and make a big statement," Fossier said. "I think we are going to have a really strong team next year. It's been nice. I think my class was in the beginning of rebuilding phase, so I feel like we've gotten better. We only a lost a few guys and I know that we have really good young recruits coming in. Our goal is to win a championship and I think that we definitely have the personnel to do it."

In order for the Black Bears to continue to build upon their success, the team needs to rely on the continued growth of Swayman. Although looking forward to a strong campaign starting in October, Swayman has goals beyond his time in Orono.

"No, I think I thrive under that pressure and that different exposure," Swayman said when asked about potentially being Tuukka Rask's replacement some day. "I'm very happy to be in the position I'm in and I've worked so hard to get here. The bottom line is I want to win a Stanley Cup with an organization like this. I want to do whatever it takes to get there and it's a great time to be at this organization right now."

Swayman articulated that he wants to be a difference-maker in the Bruins organization. His competitiveness will spark his development, and his love for learning and listening to his coaches will help him improve upon the finer points of goaltending. He's hungry, and he's a player to watch.

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