COLLEGE HOCKEY / FREEZE-OUT TOURNAMENT : Maine Favored to Repeat as Champion


The Maine hockey team, one victory short of winning the NCAA title last season, opens the 1995-96 season as the favorite to win a second consecutive Great Western Bank Freeze-Out.

The Black Bears play Miami of Ohio at 4 p.m. today at the Forum. Michigan State plays Boston College in the other first-round game at 7 p.m.

The tournament moves to The Pond of Anaheim for the championship and consolation games on Sunday. The third-place game is at noon and the title game at 3 p.m.

Here is a closer look at the four teams:

Maine (32-6-6 last season) won the Hockey East championship, but lost the NCAA title to league rival Boston University, 6-2. The Black Bears are ranked fourth in The Sporting News preseason poll. They return 22 lettermen, including goaltender Blair Allison, one of the nation's best. Allison, a senior, had a 32-6-6 record and a 2.68 goals-against average last season. Senior center Brad Purdie led Maine with 29 goals.

Maine has strong bloodlines to the NHL. Freshman Steve Kariya is the brother of Mighty Duck Paul Kariya and junior Trevor Roenick is the brother of Chicago Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick.

In addition to last season's championship, the Black Bears won Freeze-Out titles in 1991 and '92.

Miami (18-15-6) finished in fifth place in the Central Collegiate Hockey Assn. last season, but is 14th-ranked nationally in one preseason poll.

Kevyn Adams, a senior center who was picked by the Boston Bruins in the 1993 draft, led Miami with 20 goals and 29 assists last season.

Boston College (15-16-5) finished eighth in the nine-team Hockey East and suffered through its fourth consecutive losing season. But Jerry York, the Eagles' second-year coach, signed prize recruit Marty Reasoner, one of the top incoming freshmen in the country.

Goalie Greg Taylor, who was 11-19-2 in goal as a sophomore and has the fourth most saves in school history, also returns.

Michigan State (25-12-3) is hoping to rebound from a first-round loss in the NCAA playoffs last season. Anson Carter is the Spartans' top player and was a Hobey Baker finalist last season. Carter scored a team-leading 34 goals with 17 assists last season.

The Spartans' top three defensemen, Chris Smith, Ryan Fleming and Bart Vanstaalduinen, also are back.

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