After receiving verbal commitment from 6-foot-8-inch goaltender Stephen Mundinger, 20, of Smithtown, N. Y., the University of Maine Black Bears hockey team looks to have one of the largest backstopping duos in Division I college hockey in the not-so-distant future.
Mundinger gave his endorsement of the Black Bears program last week, telling the Bangor Daily News it was an easy choice for him to make.
“I loved the coaching staff. They’re great people. Coach [Red] Gendron has a [top-notch] track record at every level. And the reputation Maine has for [developing] goalies is amazing,” Mundinger said.
Mundinger, officially listed at 6 feet 8 inches and 240 pounds, could become a staple in Gendron’s netminder rotation in the coming years. Coupled with 6-foot-4-inch , 220-pound first-year netminder Rob McGovern, the goaltender tandem could prove to be the defensive stalwart the Black Bears have been looking for in recent years.
While Mundinger is a larger prospect, he’s touted for having the post-to-post speed of a 5-foot-9- inch netminder and excellent reflexes.
Mundinger finished his season with the New York Aviators of the NA3H-tier three junior hockey-with a 24-8-4 record while amassing a .936 save percentage in net. He also finished in the top six in the league for goals against average with a 2.71 mark.
Before switching to ice hockey in high school, Mundinger played inline hockey in his youth which allowed him to sharpen his reflexes with a lighter puck. In transitioning, Mundinger has said that it’s easier to follow the puck in ice hockey because it moves slower than in inline play.
Mundinger will be competing for ice time with a trio of returning goaltenders in fourth-year Matt Morris, McGovern and second-year Sean Romeo, along with newcomer Tyler Johnson, who may have to sit out for the entirety of the 2017-2018 campaign for playing one game in the Ontario Hockey League.
The addition of Mundinger not only gives Maine more options between the crease next season, but also the real potential for developing another impactful goaltender for the NHL. Maine is well-known for developing goaltenders, particularly larger players like Ben Bishop and Jimmy Howard, who backstop the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings respectively at the game’s highest level.
Mundinger will be coached by Maine’s new volunteer goaltending coach Alfie Michaud, a former national champion goaltender for Maine in 1999, who spent time coaching in the Arizona Coyotes organization as the goaltenders coach for the Portland Pirates.