Despite the hot start, the Indians are still considered an outsider when it comes to the elite of Eastern A — a field that includes Lewiston (4-2-1) and Bangor (6-1-0) because they play a softer schedule than the Rams or Blue Devils.

Of Skowhegan’s seven victories, only one has come against teams with a .500 record — Lawrence (4-4-0). The combined record of their opponents is a 12-23-2.

“If we pay our brand of hockey we’ll be OK,” Fowler said. “It only takes one goal to win. There may be more athletic teams out there but at the same time those teams may not take care of the details. A lot of breaks can happen in hockey games.”

The road will become decidedly more difficult down the stretch.

Skowhegan will play at the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative team Jan. 19, then travel to Bangor on Jan. 30.

The Indians will close the regular season with games against MHW (4-2-1), Brunswick (4-2-0) and Cony (4-2-0).

“It will get tougher for us in the second half,” Fowler said. ” We’re not playing the real big heavy weights, but the good news is that we have chances to gain Heal points. We’ll find out what we’re made of.”

* * *

The Winslow girls are winless in their last five games but are still in the hunt for an East Division playoff berth.

Five teams qualify for the postseason, and the Raiders (2-7-2) entered play Monday night sixth in Heal points. Yarmouth/Freeport (4-7-1), Brunswick (4-6-0), St. Dominic (2-7-0) and Winslow are battling for two playoff spots.

“Four teams for two spots,” Winslow coach Chris Downing said. “That’s the way I see it. Right now we are just progressing. We’re learning the fundamentals and putting them in action. We’re working on the defensive side of things, too.”

The Raiders are allowing about 45 shots a game while taking about 15. The discrepancy is a big reason why they are 0-3-2 in their last five games.

“We have to work on cutting down those shots and getting more of our own,” Downing said. “That’s quite a gap.”

Jen Poulin, Miranda Gagne and Paige Veilleux comprise the top line for Winslow. Junior Jessica Cain starts in net while Alexis Lachance and Reagan Cain lead the group of defensemen.

Winslow next plays at Mt. Ararat (0-10-0) on Thursday at Bowdoin College.

* * *

Lawrence is the surprise team of Eastern B, winning three straight to even its mark at 4-4-0. The Bulldogs are doing it despite skating just 11 players.

“We keep working hard and just get better every day,” first-year coach Ted Fabian said. “It’s nice to think that, but it’s a long season. We’re starting to put some things together, though.”

Forward Tyler Boudreau, defenseman Jordan Nutting and goalie Kyle McLain lead the Bulldogs. Andrew Carpenter and Josh Doolan are providing some scoring punch as well.

The Bulldogs host Brewer (5-2-0) on Wednesday at Sukee Arena.

“That will be a good measuring stick for us,” Fabian said. “It couldn’t come at a better time.”

* * *

Waterville (2-5-0) squandered an opportunity to pick up a key Eastern A victory last Thursday when it lost 5-4 in overtime to MHW. The Panthers led 3-0 and 4-1 in that game.

“We have to regroup because the tough ones are coming now,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said.

Tough ones, indeed.

Waterville begins a grueling five-game stretch Thursday at Cony (4-2-0) at the Bank of Maine Ice Vault. From there, the Panthers will face St. Dominic (1-3-1), Lewiston (4-2-1), Bangor (6-1-0) and defending Eastern B champ Messalonskee (8-0-0).

“We have to take care of what we can do,” Martin said. “We have to bounce back. We’re still hanging in there. There are plenty of (Heal) point-worthy games left.”

Waterville receive a boost this week with the addition of Michael Oliveira, a freshman top-line forward who has been out with a hamstring injury suffered during soccer season. Oliveira practiced Monday and Martin said he could play Thursday against Cony. Oliveira will skate with Dalton Denis and Chris Lee.

“He’s a little sore but if everything goes right, he’ll be out there,” Martin said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com