The Skowhegan hockey team opened the season with nine consecutive victories to establish itself as a legitimate playoff threat in Eastern A.
The Indians suffered their first loss Saturday, losing to the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop cooperative team 4-1, and coach Jeff Fowler said he was eager to see how his team would respond.
Just fine, it turns out.
Skowhegan blew open a close game with five third period goals to skate past Mt. Ararat/Lisbon 7-2 on Monday morning at Sukee Arena.
“We had a jump in our step,” Fowler said. “We rebounded nicely.”
Fowler made a few changes for Monday’s game in an effort to kick start the offense, which was struggling of late.
The Indians (10-1-0) averaged 5.5 goals a game in their first six games but just 2.5 in their last four.
Fowler moved third-line center Brett Whittemore up to skate with Trey Michonski and Kyle Demchak. Cam DesPres, Chase Nelson and Kristian Carrier comprised another line. The Indians also received production from their third line of Anthony Paul, Tristan Libby and Grant Benson
“We were dipping in production,” Fowler said. “We had to get our offense going.”
Skowhegan got it going Monday against an Eagles team that is fighting for an Eastern A playoff berth.
Demchak scored two goals and Paul added a goal and an assist.
“We played well,” Fowler said. “It was nice to see us rebound like that.”
• • •
After Messalonskee suffered its first defeat of the season, a 5-4 overtime decision to John Bapst on Jan. 12, coach Mike Latendresse decided to shake a few things up.
“The problem was we were just too comfortable,” he said. “When you’re 8-0 you think you are the best, but you are not.”
The Eagles didn’t play during the week but had several practices. Each one forced them to step out of their comfort zone.
“Every day in practice I changed the lines,” Latendresse said. “The theme of the week was change. I played guys in different positions, changed the lines and worked on new systems. The guys got it. I think it will help us in the long run.”
Messalonskee (9-1-0) bounced back with an 8-3 win over Winslow last Saturday.
Latendresse played everybody and sat standout forwards Chase and Jared Cunningham the last six minutes of the third period.
“It was a good way to bounce back,” Latendresse said. “We had a good week in practice. We worked hard. Having a week off, it allowed us to work on different parts of our game. We were able to get back to basics, to get back on track. We worked on new things, new combinations and new systems.”
• • •
The Winslow girls have just three games remaining and will need to win at least two of them to have a shot at an East Division playoff berth.
The top five teams will qualify for the playoffs. Winslow (3-9-3) is in seventh in Heal points, but it isn’t far behind No. 6 Brunswick (5-10-0) and No. 5 St. Dominic (6-9-0).
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” Winslow coach Chris Downing said. “To win out would definitely secure a position and we have the capability to do that. If we win two out of three, a lot will depend on how the other teams do. It will be interesting to say the least.”
Winslow, which tied Portland 1-1 on Monday, will play at Greely (11-2-1) on Saturday. The Black Raiders will then play Yarmouth/Freeport (5-9-1) on Jan. 30.
“We’ll play to the final whistle,” Downing said.
• • •
It didn’t take long for the refurbished “Icernator Zamboni,” which the Bank of Maine Ice Vault debuted Dec. 22, to impact a game.
The Zamboni, which was outfitted with a three-barreled T-shirt launcher and special effect lighting by Darling’s of Augusta, created a sizable hole in the faceoff dot at the north end of the arena when it got stuck during the second intermission of an Eastern A game Saturday night between Cony and Bangor.
“I’ve never seen anything like that happen,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “That was different.”
Drew Glasheen, operations manager at the Vault, said the pipes that carry the water are set low in this particular Zamboni. As a result, when the “Icernator” got stuck, it dropped enough water — heated at 180 degrees — to melt a mole that measured several feet long and an inch and a half deep.
“The tires were spinning and the Zamboni just stopped,” Glasheen said. “It’s something that happens. It just melted the ice and we couldn’t patch it in time. It just didn’t freeze over. We just didn’t have the time to do it.
The game was subsequently called, because the hole created a safety issue. Bangor was awarded a 3-1 victory.
“We were playing pretty well,” Foye said. “We would’ve liked to play that third period but what can you do? It was just a real big hole on the ice. It was a fluke thing.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640