The Messalonskee hockey team opened defense of its Eastern B championship Saturday night against John Bapst with an unfamiliar result: A 1-0 victory. The Eagles averaged about eight goals a game last year but returned a different team.
Leading-scorer Sam Dexter graduated and key forward James Varney opted to play junior hockey this fall.
“It was a good, evenly matched game,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “For our first time out, we performed well. We had our chances but just couldn’t score. Sometimes that happens. But we got a win, and it’s a good way to get on the board.”
Jared Cunningham scored the goal and Ben Weeks stopped 20 shots to earn his first shutout.
“You can’t ask for more than that,” Latendresse said. “Ben played well. I think you could see that as the game went along his confidence grew.”
* * *
Waterville got off to a rough start Saturday night. The Panthers squandered an early two-goal lead and allowed three goals in the final three minutes of the third period in a 5-3 loss to Brunswick.
“It’s tough but we’ll bounce back,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “In like a minute span we went from being up 3-2 to being down 5-3.”
The Purple Panthers (0-1-0) led 3-2 with about two and a half minutes left in the third period. The Dragons capitalized on a two-man advantage to pick up the win. Waterville was whistled for 14 penalties, including nine in the third period.
“We played solid but those hurt,” said Martin, whose team led 2-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second.
Martin is still shuffling his lines with Michael Oliveira out with a hamstring injury suffered during soccer season. Oliveira is expected to play on the top line with Dalton Denis and Chris Lee.
Parker Gidney filled in for Oliveira.
* * *
Skowhegan will open the season Wednesday against Winslow at Sukee Arena, bringing an end to what was a tough preseason.
The Indians suffered a few injuries in their exhibition finale last week against the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative, including one to key defenseman Ann-Marie Provencal.
Provencal absorbed a hit along the offensive blue line and left the game with a head injury, according to coach Jeff Fowler.
“She could be out a while,” Fowler said. “We’re trying to recover from that. It’s tough when an exhibition game proves costly. It’s supposed to be a tuneup so it’s tough. But injuries happen to all teams, and we’re no different. We’ll have to deal with it.”
Provencal is one of the team’s top defensemen.
The Indians played four exhibition games and allowed just one goal. Fowler said he hopes the strong defensive play will continue into the regular season.
“We’re excited,” he said. “Our team defense is doing well.”
* * *
Winslow boys coach Corey Lessard figured it would take a little time for his team’s offense to get into a rhythm.
Turns out, it took just one game.
The Raiders lost 10-9 in overtime to Presque Isle on Friday, but six different players scored for Winslow.
“We’re happy with the offensive end of it,” Lessard said. “I thought we’d come on as the year went along. I didn’t expect that (nine goals). They really surprised with how well they played.”
The Raiders return to action at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday against Skowhegan.
Lessard said Cam Tibbetts, who was pulled after two periods against Presque Isle, will start in goal against the Indians.
“Cam, he’s had some games the last few years where he didn’t have a great game,” Lessard said. “But he always bounced back. We expect the same. He wants to show he is a good goalie, that he can perform. He has the experience.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640