Maine Hockey Journal

UMaine lands Lativan sniper for 2017-18

ZUG, SWITZERLAND - APRIL 16: Canada's Parker Wotherspoon #26 and Latvia's Eduards Tralmaks #24 collide during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (PHOTO: Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)

ZUG, SWITZERLAND – APRIL 16: Canada’s Parker Wotherspoon #26 and Latvia’s Eduards Tralmaks #24 collide during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (PHOTO: Francois Laplante/HHOF-IIHF Images)

The University of Maine men’s hockey team received a verbal commitment from 2015-16 Eastern Hockey League’s Premier Division MVP, Eduards Tralmaks, for the 2017-18 season.

The 6-foot-2, 19-year-old from Riga, Latvia potted 28 goals and 27 assists in 40 games to be ranked fifth in the league overall in his first season of junior hockey with the Boston Bandits. He spent the previous two seasons with the Bandits 16U and 18U Midget teams.

“This is definitely a dream that has come true to me, and I’m really proud to be a part of this incredible team,” Tralmaks said via email. “One more reason I chose the University of Maine was the coaching staff. They are really nice people with great coaching experience. I know I am in good hands now, and I want to thank them for giving me an opportunity to play for my dream university.”

He also thanks his family and coaches for supporting him throughout his hockey career.

Bandits General Manager and coach Todd Sterling knew Tralmaks was a skilled player, but his performance at last season’s International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Under-18 Championships in Zug, Switzerland really opened his eyes where Tralmaks had a goal and two assists in six games.

“They were playing in the top pool, and I saw video of him against the Canadian team and really dawned on me and struck me that he has played on a major league stage,” Sterling said. “His Latvian team was playing against the best 20 kids from Canada and the US. It became very real for me. We knew he was a highly skilled player. That was a world stage he was on.”

The USA team had the likes of Colin White and Casey Fitzgerald, who are both freshman at Boston College, Charlie McAvoy and Jordan Greenway of Boston University, Tage Thompson of UConn and the potential number one pick in the upcoming 2016 NHL Draft, Auston Matthews.

The Canadian team boasted NHL first round picks like Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, who were both drafted by the New York Islanders.

“Playing against those guys definitely gave a lot of confidence because I realized that I can perform at a really high level, and that helped me on the way to the EHL,” Tralmaks said. “It reflected at the beginning of the season when I had a really good start.”

He also had a good showing at the Beantown Classic in the middle of March.

“He knew he had to play at different levels in order to get seen like he wanted to,” Sterling said. “Obviously, he put up very good numbers at the Beantown Classic a couple of weeks ago. He was able to forge forward as an elite player.”

The Boston Bandits first saw Tralmaks at a Select Tournament in Portland four years ago, and Tralmaks had a chance to visit Maine during his first season with the Bandits.

“When I played my first year here in the USA, we went to a showcase that was located in Maine,” Tralmaks said. “After our game, there was an opportunity to see a UMaine hockey game as they played against (New Hampshire). As soon as I walked into the arena I suddenly got really excited seeing all those crazy fans cheering for the favorite team and atmosphere was just unbelievable. After that game, I said to myself: ‘I wish I could have played here.’”

Sterling said Tralmaks is the first player on the ice and stays on after practice. He also said Tralmaks has some great hands and the puck also finds his stick. Sterling wishes Tralmaks would shoot more because he has a very good shot.

“As of a player my biggest strengths are my vision and my hands,” Tralmaks said. “I like to make good, smart plays and make a good move to clear the ice for a good shot. I can be a playmaker and a sniper at the same time – that`s what makes me a complete player in the offensive zone. I’d like to work more on my shot, my skating and I also work on my defensive side as well.”

Just like most kids of Tralmaks’ age, he has to get used to playing against older competition.

“Next year, at the USHL level, the physical maturity and the age of all the players is going to be the next step for him,” Sterling said. “He’s going to be coming into college playing against 21, 22, 23-year-olds. The physical maturity you need to play against older kids is one of the things he’s going to continue to work on. The Maine coaches and training staff is going to help facilitate that.”

Tralmaks will go through the USHL Phase II Draft in May and go from there on where he will play next season before joining the Black Bears in 2017.

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

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