Former UMaine star turns to high-level hockey coaching in Bangor as he battles cancer
When two-year-old former University of Maine hockey captain Guy Perron was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last March, he decided to be proactive.
“I wasn’t just going to sit down,” Perron said.
He therefore turned to something that has fascinated him all his life: hockey.
Perron accepted an invitation from Bangor High School hockey head coach Quinn Paradis, who several years ago offered him to join his coaching staff. The arrangement is proving therapeutic for Perron, who has been a valuable addition to the staff while balancing the gig with his work and cancer treatments.
The Rams have had a good season so far, going 6-2 with their only two losses at 9-0 Edward Little High School in Auburn. Edward Little is first in the Heal Points standings and Bangor is second. The teams played a 5-4 thriller Saturday night at Auburn and the four goals were two more than the Eddies had allowed in their previous eight games combined.
Bangor picked up their first victory over Lewiston in six years last week 1-0.
“The team bought. We have a good group of children. most [information] we can give them, the better. We see improvement with every game,” said Perron.
Former UMaine goaltender Greg Hirsch, who also joined the coaching staff this season, said watching Perron on the ice “excites me.”
“He jumped in with both feet. He analyzes the film at night and brings insight into the game that these guys couldn’t get anywhere else. They just couldn’t,” Hirsch said. “I am lucky to be able to train with him. He made me a better coach and a better person.
Perron, a native of Laval, Que., enjoyed a stellar career at UMaine from 1986-1990 and is 18th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 146 points on 62 goals and 84 assists in 136 games. . He helped lead UMaine to its first four NCAA Tournament appearances and the school’s top two Frozen Four finishes.
His resume includes time as an assistant coach for the UMaine men’s hockey team and head coach for the women’s hockey team, head coach at Bangor High, and scout for the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. He was also an assistant at Dartmouth College, general manager/head coach of the Chicago Freeze of the North American Hockey League, and director of hockey operations for the Maine Junior Black Bears program.
“He’s a very smart guy,” said Bangor senior goaltender Jake Hirsch, Greg’s son. “He’s played the game forever and knows all the ins and outs. He’ll come into the locker room and show us things [that will help us improve].”
He’s on the ice with the team for practices and in the press box during games, taking notes before going down to the locker room after each period and providing feedback to coaches and players.
“He’s awesome,” sophomore left-winger Miles Randall said. “He always comes to the rink with a smile on his face. He makes us work hard. He’s a great guy.
Among the players on the team is the youngest of Guy and Renée Perron’s three children, Marc-André.
Perron’s wife, Renee, said her husband’s return to training was “a big distraction”.
“He manages to break down the match with Marc-André. He is having a great time,” she said. “He loves breaking down the game and working with the players.”
“He was a great inspiration for our program,” Paradis said. “The kids love him. They listen to him and buy into his systems. We’re there for him and he’s there for us. The kids have a heart for hockey and he has a heart for hockey. It’s been a ride fun.
Prior to Perron’s first practice with the team, he hadn’t been on the ice for two years and was undergoing chemotherapy treatments, which was affecting his balance.
“I took a [spill]laughed Perron. “I felt like I was back in ‘Learn to Skate’.”
Perron balances a busy schedule that included 19 chemotherapy treatments at the Lafayette Family Cancer Institute in Brewer and her job at WS Emerson, a wholesale distributor of career apparel, activewear, shoes, headgear, clothing, and more. uniforms and other promotional products.
He goes to practices and games when he can.
Perron, 55, said he’s had “good days and bad days” battling cancer and will be heading to Boston for radiation treatment next week.
“It’s probably going to be a tough road next week. We’ll see what happens,” Perron said.
Both Perron and Renee used the word “humility” to describe the tremendous support they received from the local community and the hockey community, including Perron’s former teammates and coaches at UMaine.
Renee Perron said her husband belongs to the ice cream.
“It’s in his blood. He could skate before he could walk,” she said.