2019-01-18 / Community

1-on-1 with UNE’s Neil Maietta

South Portland native helping Nor’easters make noise on the ice
By Sienna Barstow
Sports Writer

Neil Maietta, a South Portland native, has rounded out the University of New England’s hockey team. (Courtesy photo) Neil Maietta, a South Portland native, has rounded out the University of New England’s hockey team. (Courtesy photo) The University of New England men’s hockey team went 20-6-3 last season and was knocked out of the NCAA Division III Tournament during the first round.

The Nor’easters are a younger team this year, but they returned plenty of talent from that team including South Portland native Neil Maietta and they are hoping the 2018-19 season will see them take the next step.

Maietta and the Nor’easters improved to 11-4-1 on the season with a 4-1 win over Colby College on Tuesday night. The win was significant as UNE fell to the Mules last year in the first round of NCAA tournament.

Following the victory, Maietta took some time to talk about his career so far at UNE and the Nor’easters’ goals for the rest of the year.

Here is the complete interview:

Why did you decide to go to UNE?

Being a local kid, you want to look away at other schools and see the other opportunities out there, but everything throughout juniors led back to UNE every time. I knew a bunch of guys on the team. I knew that (UNE) coach (Kevin) Swallow was going to be in his second year and he was a younger guy. He had the right mindset for our team to grow and now we’re a top 15 team. It’s a very special team to be apart of.

What’s it like to play college hockey at UNE?

It’s fun. Here especially we get fans, you’re well-known around school, we have a good reputation. It’s not like anything else, we play two games a week. We play 25 games for a season. It might not sound like a lot, but those games are so important. You become brothers with every guy you play with so it’s pretty cool.

How have you improved from your freshmen season until now?

I think taking one day at a time and really understanding your role on a team. If that means not playing for a game or starting the game just knowing what your role is that night. Honestly, it just always leads back to doing whatever you can for the team, that’s the role that I’ve taken on.

Where do you think your team is at right now?

I think we’re starting to hit the right stride. Normally, we’ve went on a high streak to early and then when the playoffs come, we choke. I think right now we’re actually playing our best hockey. I’m pretty excited about it.

At the beginning of the year, what were your goals as a team?

Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win our CCC Championship and then a national championship. We have a younger team, but we have a lot of leaders that can make it happen so that’s definitely our end goal.

After beating Colby College, who knocked you out of the NCAA tournament last year, are you more confident that you can achieve those goals?

I think it’s definitely one of those things where you have to put in perspective that every team changes every year. We’re way different then we were last year — and (Colby) is as well. We can definitely look at it as a little bit of a payback but we can’t really look at that as we should definitely make it to the (top) four this year. It’s more of a stepping stone. We can say, ‘hey we just beat them.’ Check that one off and just move on to the next weekend.

What’s it like to be from South Portland and play at the college level close to home?

I love it. It’s one of those things where growing up, you see the same people every weekend, you see the same people and you actually see people come and watch the games that coached you when you were seven years old. My family can come to every game, which I love and it’s one of the reasons I picked UNE.

What are your goals for the future?

My father has his own business. I’m going to get into that with him. I’m very interested in the custom homes, building and things like that. If a coaching job ever comes up, I feel like I definitely have the mind for the game. I’ve been a great teammate on all the teams I’ve played for and I really get overall concept and picture of hockey… A coaching opportunity, I would probably jump on it because I do love hockey and I to stay in it in any way.

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