A Death in the Family


As our children take the field or skate out onto the ice the mothers and fathers and siblings and friends arrange ourselves in the stands or along the out-of-bounds lines.  We are there to cheer for them, support them, and tell them to skate harder even if we’re pretty sure they can’t hear us.

We recognize that there are other parents in the stands, the one’s cheering, supporting and screaming for the other team because they are parents too, supporting their children as well.  We may not like it when the other team scores and the other parents cheer but, hopefully, we recognize that they don’t like it when our team scores either.

There are, however, moments in a game for mutual support and reminders that we are not limited in our passion for one team or one child.  When a kids takes a smack into the boards, we all cheer when they get up.  When a great play is made we all acknowledge, begrudgingly at times, the skill and effort it took.  We feel bad when a game gets out of hand because we’ve all been there at one time or another.

When a team or player from our area succeeds at a higher level, we are all lifted up.  And when tragedy comes, we can all be there to help in any way we can. Sadly, such a tragedy has come to our community.

Andrea Michaud passed away on April 14 from a sudden and unexpected illness at the age of 45.  She was a native of Peterborough Ontario, Canada, a French Teacher at Holbrook Middle School, the wife of Toby Michaud and the proud mother of two boys, Max and Tucker both of whom played hockey for the Brewer Witches at the Squirt and Mite levels respectively.


I did not know Andrea, but Zane, as a Maine Junior Black Bear, played against Max several times this year, meaning that in those moments our hopes and cheers were for opposite results.  This also means that Tucker and Augi probably spent some quality time in the various warm room hijinks and bleacher crawls younger brothers like to engage in.



By all reports Andrea was an enthusiastic hockey mom and her boy’s #1 fan.  The loss has been felt hard by her family, her students, Brewer Youth Hockey and all of us who spend hours and hours and hours helping our kids skate, run, tumble, ride and swim. We are reminded at these times that while our children may play for different teams we are all one big family in the end. Next season there will be one less cheer in the stands.  Like the kids on the other side of the glass, we may not hear her, but her presence will still be felt and her love for the games her children play will be carried on.

It is fitting that the Penobscot Ice Arena will hold a Michaud Family Benefit on Friday night at 7:30.  There will be food and drinks and skating under the disco lights.   Family, friends, everyone is invited.  There will be Brewer Witches and Maine Junior Black Bears and people who don’t even know what a puck is.  There will be a couple car loads of players from the men’s and women’s University of Maine hockey teams there because they know they’d never have gotten to where they are now without mom and dad cheering them on when they were kids.

We cannot replace Andrea.  We can’t be there to tuck Max and Tucker in at night or pack their lunches in the morning the way only a mother can.  We can’t hug Toby the way she did.  We can only let them know they are not alone, that they are our family and we will help as best we can.


Please visit the Michaud Family Benefit page for further information.  A $10/family donation would be great.  Food or beverage donations for the event can be made by contacting Sandy Sawyer – sdsawyer@myfairpoint.net



As with any family, there is tragedy and then there is triumph.  Several of our adopted children or surrogate older brothers, some former UMaine Black Bears, are participating in the various pro-hockey play-offs.  Ben Bishop faces Gustav Nyquist and Jimmy Howard as the Lightning take on the Red Wings.

In the AHL two former Maine captains find themselves on opposite sides of the red line as Devon Shore’s Texas Stars play Spencer Abbott’s Rockford Ice Hogs.

And then, way out in Idaho, former Black Bear, former New Hampshire Junior Monarch and former Scarborough Red Storm alum Jake Rutt continues his playoff run with the Idaho Steelheads against the Utah Grizzlies (currently up 2-1).


Jake was a student in my Introduction to Creative Writing Class this semester and turned in a remarkable final project covering his first 19 days as a professional hockey player.  In the journal he writes about the events that began with the heartbreak of the losing to Vermont in the Hockey East playoffs only to find himself in Boise less than 48 hours later.  It is a tale of struggle, sacrifice and success that all Mainers can be proud of.  With Jake’s permission, I’ll be sharing excerpts from his story at the conclusion of his season, which will hopefully end with the raising of a cup.

Here’s hoping the Alfond Arena hosts a three cup event, Kelly, Calder and Stanley, next fall.


Travis Baker

About Travis Baker

Travis Baker grew up playing baseball, basketball, football and soccer. There was a brief stint with karate and a briefer one with fencing but he would not return to the glory days of youth sport until he moved to Maine and had a couple of boys, Zane (11) and August (7), of his own. Inspired by his lads, he learned to play hockey at the age of 35 and now plays every Monday night in Brewer. Thanks to a number of former students, he’s learned a wee bit about lacrosse, field hockey and track and field. When not helping out in his kid’s activities, is the award-winning playwright of One Blue Tarp and Hair Frenzy, both of which premiered at the Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor. Travis is the author of Night and the Texas Sky, and numerous short stories and essays. He is married to the founder of Maine Yoga Adventures, Holly Twining. Currently, he coaches hockey, baseball and serves on the board of the Maine Junior Black Bears as the PR Director.