Peter Maher forever etched his name in University of Maine hockey history when he scored the Black Bears’ first-ever goal in a Hockey East game, in 1984-85 against the University of New Hampshire.
It wouldn’t be the only milestone during a career that saw Maher grow up in Exeter and eventually play professionally in Denmark before coming back to New Hampshire for good.
Like so many players growing up in Exeter, Maher picked up the game through coach George Crowe’s (2004 inductee) “Learn to Skate” program at Phillips Exeter Academy. He prepped at Canterbury School in Connecticut after coach Charlie Huntington, who’d helped run a summer camp at the Academy, invited him down. In his senior season of 1980-81, Canterbury won the Division I prep title and Maher amassed 99 points in just 25 games. He’d leave as that program’s all-time goals and points leader, with 212 of the latter.
He used that as a springboard to college hockey at Maine. During his sophomore year Maher was one of the tops in the nation for points per game for the Black Bears. Before his senior year, the program joined with six others in New England to form Hockey East and Maher finished his final season with 10 goals and 27 points.
The first of those goals, against UNH at Snively Arena, was the first the Black Bears would score in a Hockey East game. “I always had some pretty decent games at Snively. I always got up for those games.”
For Maher, the induction is special for several reasons. For nearly a quarter century, he played on a line with good friends Dana Barbin (’11 Inductee) and John Normand (’07 Inductee) at adult tournaments across New England and Quebec. In addition he and John skated with the Concord Budmen.
“Being part of an elite group, with Dana and Johnny and other players I’ve played with or against, that’s special,” said Maher. “To be part of this group, I am very honored.”
Barbin helped him land a professional contract in Denmark after his graduation, playing in the Elite Series League for HIK. In his first year of professional hockey, in the top league in Denmark, Maher took home the Carlsberg Award as the league’s leading scorer. Before returning to Denmark in 1987-88 he played for the Budmen one season then led his team in scoring and had an opportunity to skate against the famed Red Army team in the Europa Cup in Norway.
Maher still makes his home in Exeter. Since 2000 he has operated Power Sum Technologies, which sells voice and data technology components.
But those who played with or against him remember the hockey most of all. “When the chips are down, he does not like to lose,” said Normand. “There’s an inner drive that he has. People have different gears – low gear, middle gear and high gear. When it’s time to turn it on, it’s like a switch goes off on this guy, and it’s contagious.”