College hockey: Jitters gone, Rutt
ready to play for Maine
Jake Rutt, from Scarbourgh, starts his freshman year at University of Maine with this season's Black Bears' hockey team.
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- Amber Waterman/Sun Journal
ORONO - Jake Rutt's
eyes weren't quite as big and wide as those on the oversized, inflatable black bear out of which the team skates prior to games at Alfond Arena.
But as he
emerged from the bear's mouth Sunday for the first time in a competitive setting, they were close.
"It was pretty exciting, going out of the bear head for the first time," Rutt
"Seeing the crowd and everything, I had a few jitters.
But it was a good feeling."
, one of seven freshmen on the Maine squad this season, saw his
first game action Sunday in an exhibition against the University of New Brunswick
, a 7-3 Maine victory.
Because it was exhibition play, Maine dressed every healthy skater on its roster, and almost all of the players saw equal time.
Rutt's efforts Sunday produced a plus-1 rating and a pair of minor penalties, one for hooking and the other for tripping.
"Obviously it's a pretty big adjustment, but it's a work in progress," Rutt
"It's not going to come like a snap of the fingers.
It's going to take a little time, and I just have to be patient."
The biggest difference Rutt's already noticing?
"It's definitely the speed," Rutt
said, "and the talent of the players.
Every level you go up, they get smarter and they get better with the puck.
That will take a few games."
came to campus at Orono with a solid pedigree.
Before enrolling at Maine, and following his high school career at St. Dominic Academy and Scarborough High School, Rutt spent time with the Manchester Junior Monarchs.
is among five players other than Rutt
on Maine's roster to have also played for the Junior Monarchs.
Over the summer, Rutt
also joined a handful of current and former Maine players - including some Maine natives - to train for his
As the school year drew closer, Rutt and the six other freshmen filtered onto campus early.
It was there that Whitehead saw just what he's
getting in the rugged defenseman.
"And what I love about Jake
is that he's
a good athlete.
was an all-state baseball player in addition to a good hockey player, so this is a kid that has a lot of upside, a lot of athleticism.
I think that's going to translate, now that he's
focused just on hockey, I think you're going to see a big growth spurt there on the ice."
One of the biggest adjustments, Rutt
said, is learning to play more of a defense-only role, something he
began to learn in junior hockey.
"It's obviously a big change from high school and even junior hockey," Rutt
By all accounts, Rutt
appears to be adjusting just fine.