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Maine Freshman Defenseman Eric Schurhamer Smoothly Transitions to College Game

After being a healthy scratch in the first two games at St. Lawrence, Eric Schurhamer has been a mainstay in the lineup.

Eric Schurhamer, in action last season with the Lincoln Stars (USHL), scored his first collegiate goal on Saturday.
Eric Schurhamer, in action last season with the Lincoln Stars (USHL), scored his first collegiate goal on Saturday.
Shooting Star Photos

Orono, Maine -- Adjusting to the speed and strength of older players playing college hockey can be difficult for many freshmen, but Maine defenseman Eric Schurhamer has made the leap as well as can be expected.

The St. Paul, Minn. native scored his first collegiate goal on the power play Saturday night in his team's 4-3 loss against the University of Vermont.

"I got the puck off the boards, walked to the middle, looked up and saw I had a clear lane to the net. I shot and hoped for the best," said Schurhamer, who is extremely poised for a first year player.

The St. Thomas Academy alum played in the USHL last season for the Waterloo Black Hawks before being traded to the Lincoln Stars. Widely renowned as being the best junior league in North America for developing college talent, the USHL gave Schurhamer a great opportunity to become more seasoned before heading to college.

"The physicality is the biggest difference. Playing in the USHL it's pretty close to the same speed, but now there is more depth as well. Every single player is good out there. You can't ever take a shift off. Everyone is in your face a little more," said Schurhamer.

His game really took off after being acquired by the Lincoln Stars in February. He had a goal and five assists in the last 23 games of the regular season, but his defensive play improved tremendously.

Prior to his stint in the USHL, Schurhamer was a Mr. Hockey finalist, given annually to the top high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota. As a junior and senior, his team at St. Thomas won back-to-back Minnesota State Championships.

The five-foot-10 inch Schurhamer isn't the biggest defenseman, but his calmness with the puck and his vision make up for his lack of size. Schurhamer is grateful for the support of his teammates as he begins his college career.

"I feel a lot better. I'm a lot happier with the way I've been playing. My team is doing a great job of helping me out, too. They're helping me out every day so it helps a lot."

Also helping with the adjustment to playing in Hockey East is his defensive partner who also happens to be his roommate. Fellow freshman Daniel Renouf and Schurhamer have been paired together the past seven games.

"It's great. I really like having my roommate [as my defensive partner]. We have a lot of chemistry together. We talk a lot on the ice. We seem to know where each other is."

The duo could be a mainstay on the Maine blue line for years to come as first year Black Bears coach Red Gendron appears to be confident in the two rookies. Schurhamer and the Black Bears will look to get back into the win column Friday night at Alfond Arena when they host Boston University in a pivotal Hockey East matchup.

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Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.