Deborah Heath remembers her younger brother, former Gardiner hockey captain Ted Robbins, as a fun-loving person with a good sense of humor and a passion for hockey.
“He was fun to be around,” said Heath, 58, of Brunswick, “and, boy, did he love hockey.”
It’s been 32 years since Ted Robbins — who graduated from Gardiner in 1978 — died from complications of colon cancer, and his legacy will be secure when his No. 18 will be retired Thursday night at the Bank of Maine Ice Vault.
Robbins, who helped Gardiner reach the Class B championship game his senior year, died Feb. 4, 1981.
Robbins played for coach Norm Gagne, who promised the family that one day his former captain forward would be honored in some capacity.
That day will come prior to Gardiner’s game Thursday with the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative team.
“It’s such an honor,” Heath said. “It means so much to our family. I know it’s quite an honor for my mother. We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
Gagne, who coaches Scarborough, coached Gardiner for 13 years, beginning in 1973. He will speak at the brief ceremony Thursday, which will begin at 8 p.m.
“Teddy, he was special,” Gagne said. “His senior year, he was a great leader for our young guys. He took them all under his wing. I remember that every day he would lead this chant with them: “One, two, three, we believe.’
“I remember visiting him in the hospital when he was sick and his last words to me were, “hey, coach, I still believe.’ I won’t ever forget Teddy Robbins.”
Robbins was diagnosed when he was 20 years old and studying at Calhoon Maritime Engineering School in Easton, Md. Heath was living in Baltimore at the time.
“That time was special,” she said. “We got to see each other a lot. We missed our first Thanksgiving from home together.”
A banner with his name, No. 18 and the date of his birth and death will be raised to the rafters at the Vault.
“It’s a pretty sharp banner,” said Gardiner coach Jeff Ross. “It’s nice that he will be remembered this way.”
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MHW (7-4-2) was sixth in Eastern A Heal points entering games Monday.
The Hawks, who are coming off a tough 4-1 loss to No. 3 St. Dominic, are in a heated battle with Cony (8-3-3) and Skowhegan (11-2-1) for fourth place.
The top four teams will host a quarterfinal game, something the Hawks did last season.
“I know we can play with anybody,” MHW coach Andy Dube said. “We were 1-1 with St. Dom’s going into the third period. It was a back-and-forth game. We learned we could play with them.
“We’re in this, absolutely. I think we can contend but everything will have to come together at once — the goaltending, defense and goal scoring.”
The goaltending is certainly starting to turn around. Senior Tyler Plante has 71 saves in his last two games.
“I think he realizes it’s coming to an end for him,” Dube said. “He’s really stepped it up of late.”
The Hawks have also played well defensively of late, considering one of their top blueliners — Zach Glazier — is out for the season.
Zach Bessette, Zach Phinney, Zach Godbout and Nate Bowers have seen their minutes increase.
“They’ve really been playing well,” Dube said.
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Cony held its senior night before the calendar flipped to February. Thanks to a rare scheduling quirk, the Rams will play their final five games of the season on the road.
“It is odd,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “You certainly don’t see that happen too often. We talked about it with the guys, but most of them have already played in the rinks we’re going to.”
The Rams won’t be venturing too far from their home rink in Hallowell. They will take trips to Auburn and Lewiston before closing the regular season with games at Sukee Arena.
“We’re really hoping we can get another game at home,” Foye said. “That is the goal. We’ve had tremendous support this year and a lot of the students have been coming out. But we’ll do our best on the road. It’s just another obstacle we’ll have to overcome.”
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Messalonskee will play Brewer on Wednesday in a game that could determine the all-important No. 1 seed in the Eastern B playoffs.
The Witches (10-3-0) and Eagles (11-2-0) will face off at 5 p.m. at the Penobscot Ice Arena. Messalonskee has won the last two meetings, including an entertaining 7-6 game at Sukee on Jan. 2
“This is a really important game,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “We’re pretty much tied with them at the top of (Eastern B). The winner will probably take first and that’s a place we’d like to be.”
Seven teams will qualify for the Eastern B playoffs. The No. 1 seed will advance to the semifinals with a bye in the quarterfinals.
“The PIA is not an easy place to play,” Latendresse said. “To get that bye, that’s important. It’s just one step closer.”