Despite mulling offers to play junior hockey, goaltender Chris Howat, who just finished his senior year at Bangor High School, will attend the University of Maine in the fall to be the reserve goaltender for the men’s ice hockey team.
“There was an option of playing juniors, but I didn’t want to go very far (from home),” said Howat. “My studies are pretty important to me, as far as that aspect goes. It provides me (the ability) to continuing studying without a break.”
“This opportunity doesn’t come very often, plus there’s no guarantee in juniors.”
The 18-year-old was a finalist for Travis Roy Award, which is awarded to the best senior in Class A boys’ high school hockey that best exemplifies performance on-and-off the ice. He led to the Rams to a 12-5 record with a 2.22GAA and a .888 save percentage this past season.
“The fact that I was a Travis Roy finalist, I think that got my name out there,” Howat added. “(Maine head coach Tim Whitehead) may have had his eye on me before that.”
Howat stated the opportunity came about when former Bangor High School coach Dan Kerluke – now one of Maine’s associate head coaches – gave him a call after his season was over to see if he was interested in joining the team.
With three other goaltender’s on the Black Bear roster, Howat will start the season as the team’s fourth on the depth chart behind Dan Sullivan, who’s coming into the season as the team’s number one netminder, followed by junior Martin Ouellette and another incoming freshman Matt Morris.
Howat believes there is the potential to move up the depth chart.
“In the future, if anybody leaves, I know Marty Ouellette’s rights are to the Columbus Blue Jackets or Dan Sullivan decides to go pro route after the season, you never know what will go on,” he said. “Right now I am the fourth goaltender in practice, but if anyone gets injured hopefully I will be in line to get the call.”
Maine is no stranger to using big goaltenders from Ben Bishop to Scott Darling. Howat’s size at 6 foot, 5 inches attracted the coaching staff in Orono.
“I talked to coach Whitehead and he said my size and quickness were my (strengths),” Howat said. “They have seen big goalies (throughout the years).”
He will be the fourth Maine player on the roster this season, which includes Mark Anthoine (Lewiston), Jake Rutt (Scarborough), and Kyle Williams (Bowdoinham).
He will be the third goaltender from Maine playing in Hockey East with South Portland’s Jon Gillies entering his freshman campaign at Providence and Kennebunk native Brian Billett who is back for his sophomore season with Boston College.