Tommy Small didn’t really know what to expect when he came out for the Cony hockey team this season.
The Monmouth Academy freshman was handed the job early in training camp despite no varsity experience.
“There is always a concern with a freshman goalie just because of the inconsistency,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “You never really know how they are going to do.”
Small wasted little time making an impact for the Rams (6-2-1).
He’s started every game and has a minuscule 1.67 goals against average and a .940 save percentage. The GAA is good for third best in all of Class A.
“It’s been different,” Small said. “It’s a huge step up. It’s a little different from what I’m used to. I’m just trying to do what I can to help us win games.”
He’s certainly doing just that. He’s played a big role in helping the Rams contend for a top-four finish in Eastern A.
“He’s been really solid,” Foye said. “We don’t worry about goaltending. We’re also playing well in front of him.”
Small does benefit from an experienced core of defensemen, led by Zach Gagne, Chris Murphy, Spencer Buck and Sean Zubrod.
“We’re not giving up any rebounds,” Foye added. “That’s been important. We’ve done a good job of clearing out pucks.”
• • •
The Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative team is winning games but losing players at the same time.
The Hawks played Monday night against Mt. Ararat without starting goalie Tyler Plante, as well as defensemen Zach Glazier and Zach Phinney. Utility player Chris Stanley is also out with a shoulder injury.
Plante is recovering from concussion-like symptoms after taking a puck in the head about a week ago, MHW coach Andy Dube said.
“We’ve had to jumble things around,” Dube said. “We’ve had to mix things up. We’ve had a lot of injuries and illnesses. We’re hanging in there. Our hope is to get everyone back for Saturday.”
MHW hosts Skowhegan (9-0-0) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I think they all should be able to play, but we’ll see,” Dube said.
Joshua Ehirobo was slated to start in net Monday against the Eagles.
• • •
Messalonskee received what coach Mike Latendresse called a “wake-up call” with a 5-4 overtime loss to John Bapst on Saturday night.
“They really beat us up,” Latendresse said. “John Bapst, in that game, was by far the best team on the ice. Hopefully, it makes us realize that we have a lot of work left to do. It’s a reality check. You never want to lose, but maybe this is a wake-up call.”
The Eagles (8-1-0) still sit atop Eastern B in Heal points. The defending regional champs, Messalonskee will next play Winslow (2-7-0) on Saturday at Sukee Arena.
“We have to get better,” Latendresse said. “There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played.”
• • •
Waterville received a nice boost with the return of freshman forward Michael Oliveira, who missed the first seven games with a hamstring injury suffered during soccer season.
Oliveira made his season debut Thursday in a 5-1 loss to Cony.
“He’s feeling OK,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “He’s a little sore. He’s still not 100 percent and he might not be for the season, but he wants to tough it out.”
Oliveira had an assist against the Rams. He skated on the top line with Dalton Denis and Chris Lee.
“He does some good things with the puck,” Martin said. “He sees the ice well and he doesn’t panic. He did a nice job in the defensive zone.”
The Purple Panthers hosted St. Dominic on Monday to begin a grueling four-game stretch. Waterville will next play at Lewiston (4-2-1), Bangor (6-1-0) and Messalonskee (8-1-0).
“We’re not a bad hockey team,” Martin said. “Eventually we will get over the hump. We just have to keep going. Eventually the bounces will go our way. They have to. We’ve lost a couple tough ones.”
Waterville has three losses in games it led going into the third period.
“We still have a lot of games to go,” Martin added. “Can we get into the playoffs? Who knows. But we have a lot of hockey left.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640