First comes an old rival. Then comes a shot at redemption.
Both add up to an interesting week for the Messalonskee hockey team, which is still atop Eastern B.
The Eagles (10-1-0) will host Waterville at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. Three nights later, they will welcome Greely to Sukee Arena in a rematch of the Class B state title game last season.
Greely and Messalonskee will face off at 7:40 p.m. Saturday.
“This is a really big week for us,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “If you can’t get up for Waterville then something is wrong. Greely is probably the best team in the West. We know what they are capable of.”
The Rangers (7-4-0) defeated the Eagles 6-2 in the Class B championship game last season.
“The last time we saw them was the state game,” Latendresse said. “It’s a big game for us. When you face a team like Greely, you always have to be ready. We’ll learn something about ourselves. It will be interesting to see where we’re at. It’s a good week for us.”
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Few teams in the state are better equipped to handle adversity than Skowhegan because the colder it gets — and it’s been cold of late — the Indians continue to practice outside at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds.
“It gets cold,” Skowhegan coach Jeff Fowler said. “The kids brings socks and put them under their helmets. It’s just part of the adversity we face. I hope it does something for us.”
The Indians will only shift practices to Sukee Arena in warm weather, which can affect ice conditions at the Fairgrounds.
They practice at the Fairgrounds because it saves on ice time expenses.
“The ice cracks more than usual at the Fairgrounds,” Fowler said. “We have some spills, we have some injuries but we move beyond it.”
The Indians (10-1-1) entered play Monday fourth in the Eastern A Heal points.
They’ll have plenty of opportunities to move up in the coming weeks thanks to a strong end-of-season schedule. The combined record of Skowhegan’s remaining opponents is 39-23-5.
The grueling stretch begins Wednesday, when Skowhegan visits No. 1 Bangor (9-2-0) at 7:40 p.m.
“It’s going to take a Herculean effort,” Fowler said. “We’ll have to come ready to play. The margin for errors is much less. It’s going to be tough. We may have to shorten the bench a bit.”
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Lawrence snapped a four-game losing skid with a 7-4 win over Winslow last Saturday at Sukee Arena.
The Bulldogs (5-8-0) are clinging to the seventh and final playoff berth in Eastern B.
“It was good to see the kids bounce back,” first-year Lawrence coach Ted Fabian said. “We’ve been struggling of late. I tell them that there will be ups and downs throughout the season. Hockey is funny like that.”
Lawrence received a boost with the return of defenseman Clay Turner and key forward Cody Martin, who’d missed the first half of the season with a broken collarbone.
Martin scored two goals against Winslow.
“Cody had a very good preseason,” Fabian said. “It’s good to have him back.”
Lawrence will next host Houlton/Hodgdon (3-10-0) at 2:20 p.m. Saturday. The Shiretowners are eighth in Eastern B.
“They are right behind us,” Fabian said. “It’s a big game in terms of the playoffs. We’ll have a full week of practice so we’ll be ready.”
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Around the state: Camden Hills (10-0-0) is the lone undefeated team in the state, boys or girls. … The Scarborough girls and boys are a combined 24-2-1. Both teams are ranked first in Heal points in their respective conferences. … Camden and Greely (7-4-0) are the only teams in Western B with better-than-.500 records. There are five in Eastern B. … Lewiston (8-2-1) doesn’t have a player ranked in the top 30 of the Class A scoring leaders. MHW’s top line of Dan Condon-Matt Plourde-Jared Hansen has combined to score 82 points in 11 games.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640