Maine Hockey Journal

UMaine receive commitment from skilled forward

The University of Maine men’s hockey team received a verbal commitment from skilled forward Craig Needham last week.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound, soon-to-be 17-year-old from Arlington, Mass. had 14 goals and 10 assists in 24 games at Lawrence Academy this past season after an 18 goal, 10 assist sophomore campaign in 2014-15.

“He was a junior captain for us this year,” Lawrence Academy coach Robbie Barker said. “He basically with our senior captain – Liam O’Sullivan – were the leaders of the group. To have a junior of his caliber and his leadership has been excellent for the program. He’s a good student, very highly talked about in the community.”

Barker also said Needham likes to go the extra mile whether it’s in the classroom, giving prospective student tours on campus or doing an extra workout in the gym.

Barker said Needham wanted to go somewhere he was comfortable.

“He wanted to make sure was in a place where he wanted and where he was comfortable,” Barker said. “We talked the other day, and that’s where he was leaning towards. I supported him, although, being a University of New Hampshire alum, I did support him in his decision making.”

Barker played at UNH from 2001-05 where he had four goals and 28 assists as a defenseman in 110 games in Durham. He played the 2005-06 season with the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL.

Needham didn’t rely solely on Barker during the recruiting process but relied on his family who has Division I and Division III experience in the sport.

Barker said Craig doesn’t just focus on his offensive game.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Barker said if Needham could be considered a two-way forward. “I think he’s one of the best two-way forwards in the league. I think he’s going to continue to improve on it. He’s reliable in all three zones. He understands the game very well, has a high hockey IQ and great vision.”

Barker said when he made the adjustment to the college game, he had to continue to get better in all facets of his game and Needham will have to do the same.

The Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League drafted Needham in the seventh round of the 2015 Phase I Draft. Barker said the plan now is for Needham to return for his senior year. The earliest he would come to Maine is the 2017-18 season.

Needham’s coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance into the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.

Needham couldn’t be reached for this story.


Future Black Bear Neil Shea announced a few weeks ago he will spend the 2016-17 season at Lawrence Academy after spending the past three years at Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Mass.

At Marshfield, he had 20 goals and 29 assists in 26 games this past season.

“We are very excited to have Neil on the team next year and a part of our community,” Barker said. “Neil comes from a great hockey family, his brother Pat (a 2016 Maine recruit) had a great year this year as well as Neil. He brings a physical game. He plays with an edge. That’s for sure. He knows the game very well, and he puts the puck in the net.”

Patrick, who played for former Maine coach Tim Whitehead at Kimball Union Academy, had 26 goals and 45 assists in 35 games. He’s seventh round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2015 Draft.

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