( Photo Credit: Matt Dewkett )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After the unexpected passing of former University of Maine Head Coach Red Gendron, as he was enjoying a round of golf last week, the school announced this week that former Black Bear alumni and 14-year professional hockey player Ben Guite will be behind the Maine bench with an “intern” label for the upcoming 2021-22 NCAA season. The 42-year-old Guite has been an assistant coach for the last eight seasons alongside Gendron, who was on his second tour with Maine. Red’s first tour at Maine as an assistant coach came during the 1990-93 timeframe and helped orchestrate an NCAA National Championship in 1993 for the Black Bears side by side with legendary Head Coach Shawn Walsh, who passed away of cancer in 2001.

Guite, a Montreal, Quebec native, joined the NCAA hockey ranks, neglecting to play in his home province of Quebec as the former QMJHL Sherbrooke Faucons drafted him in the sixth round of the Q’s Entry Draft in 1995. During the 1996-97 season as a freshman, Ben posted 7-7-14 totals in 34 games and would get better offensively year-by-year to post a career-high of 22-14-36 numbers in his senior year. Guite also won an NCAA National Championship with Maine in 1999 under the aforementioned coaching tutelage of Shawn Walsh. In four seasons attending college in the “vacationland” state, Ben had NCAA career totals of 47-49-96 before turning pro.

After leaving Maine, Guite would spend the next four seasons starting in the ECHL with the now-defunct Tallahassee Tiger Sharks and higher Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Cincinnati Mighty Duck of the American Hockey League. During the 2004-05 season, Ben would sign with the Providence Bruins and would stay for two full seasons appearing in 150 games contributing 31-46-77 totals. Ben would also appear in his first National Hockey League game of his career with the Boston Bruins during the 2005-06 season, having zero points in his recall.

Guite would go onto have a decent career as a North American pro league journeyman posting 103-176-279 numbers in 582 career AHL games and 19-26-45 totals in 174 career NHL games. Ben retired from the game of hockey after the 2012-13 hockey season and his first outside of North America as he went overseas in Italy, where he had 26 points in 27 games for the Pustertal club. After returning to the homeland, Guite joined the Black Bears team to start his coaching career as an assistant alongside the late Gendron.

The quotes below from new Intern Head Coach Ben Guite were taken from Dave Dyer’s article in the Kennebec Journal published on April 14th, 2021. You can honestly tell how much Red meant to Ben and his career and what he learned over the years for this opportunity to get behind the University of Maine bench. Maine’s Athletic Director Ken Ralph made the official announcement and words of encouragement as the Black Bears get ready for the upcoming NCAA hockey season.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Ben Guite’s experience and character to guide our program through this difficult time,” Ralph said in a statement. “Ben is a Black Bear alum, a national champion, played in the National Hockey League, and has established himself as one of the top assistant coaches in college hockey. More importantly, there is no one who cares more about the University of Maine and the success of its hockey program.”

“We’re making sure everyone needs to get what they need to deal with this, to grieve Red in their own way,” Guite said. “At the same time, we’ve got to provide some direction for our program. It’s a time for our kids and their families to stop and assess the void Red has left in their life, but at the same time, our program needs to keep going. The world of hockey is not going to stop with this. We’ve got to remain competitive. It’s a step that needed to be made in order to make sure we’re ready for next season and that our guys are ready to compete when the time comes.”

“It’s an honor (to coach). To be here as a young kid, an 18-year old, to come in at Maine and had the experience I had. And to lead the program, with the interim tag now, it’s an honor and a roller coaster of emotions with everything that’s happened. But I’m very grateful for the confidence that’s been instilled in me.”

“I’m a younger coach, I’m more modern,” Guite said. “I think our style of play, it will be different. There’s going to be a little more creativity allowed on the offensive side of things. They’ll be encouraged to take risk at times. Don’t get me wrong, you look at the Frozen Four, all four of those teams, they played hard defensively, so that doesn’t change. If you want to win championships, that’s what you’ve got to be. But at the same time, I want to push our guys to be a little more creative and try different things.”