The Kents Hill boys hockey team made history this week when it garnered the highest New England Prep School Ice Association Division I ranking in program history.
“We’re in some pretty lofty company,” Kents Hill coach Larry Cockrell said. “We’re having a great year. We have a lot of talent.”
The Huskies (18-6-1) were ranked 18th out of 63 Division I teams. They finished last season ranked 22nd. The rankings are based on a team’s winning percentage, strength of schedule and its opponents’ winning percentage.
Kents Hill has two regular-season games remaining before the Division I playoffs get under way next week. It is trying to hold onto the top seed in the small school tournament.
“The way it works is that there are three different playoffs, an elite, big school and small school,” Cockrell said. “It looks like we’re going to make the tournament.”
The Huskies feature six players who’ve scored 30 or more points. Logan Day and Jared Cockrell, Larry’s son, lead the team with 50 points. Winthrop native Mark Dufour leads the team with 24 goals.
“We’ve also been good defense lately,” Larry Cockrell said. “We’re playing some really good hockey.”
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Cony allowed a combined nine goals in their previous six games heading into an Eastern A showdown with St. Dominic on Monday afternoon.
The fast-charging Saints then matched that total with a 9-2 victory over the Rams.
“It wasn’t our best effort but it was probably one of theirs,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “We haven’t given up that many of late. It’s definitely one of those games we have to put behind us.”
Cony (10-4-3) is trying to chase down Skowhegan for fourth place in Eastern A. The top four will host a quarterfinal playoff game. The Indians (12-3-1) will host the Rams at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“That probably determines who goes in fourth,” Foye said. “We have to make sure we’re on the top of our game. This is a huge game Wednesday that we need to take care of. This one is huge now.”
Skowhegan hosted Brunswick (8-7-1) in another key game Monday night.
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Nick Lacasse has emerged as a key second-line forward for the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative team.
The junior is fourth on the team in scoring with 11 points (four goals and seven assists), with all of them coming in the last 10 games.
“He’s the most improved player on the Hawks,” MHW coach Andy Dube said. “It took him several games to get on the board but then he started to kick it in. He’s been carrying that second line. He works hard and he’s improved his skills. He skates well with the puck in the zone and can get up and down the ice. We’re very happy with his progress.”
The Hawks (8-6-2), who played Camden Hills on Monday, are heading to the Eastern A playoffs for a fourth straight year. They can finish anywhere from fifth to seventh.
“We’ll see how everything plays out,” Dube said.
MHW closes out the regular season Wednesday against Waterville (4-13-0).
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Messalonskee made history last season by reaching its first state championship game. It’s on the cusp of making history again this season.
The Eagles have all but sewed up their first top seed in program history as the regular season comes to a close Thursday.
“We’re pretty confident we finish No. 1,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “We’re pretty confident we’ll be first going into the playoffs. I don’t think John Bapst or Brewer can catch us now.”
The Eagles (15-2-0) hold a comfortable Heal points lead in Eastern B over the Crusaders (12-5-0) and Witches (11-5-0).
Brewer still has a game left with Eastern A contender Bangor (12-3-0), but a victory Wednesday likely isn’t enough to pass Messalonskee.
The top seed in the Eastern B playoffs receives a bye to the semifinals. Messalonskee closes the regular season Thursday when it hosts Hampden (10-6-0), which is a possible semifinal opponent. The Eagles likely are headed to the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship game Saturday at Sukee Arena against either Camden Hills or Brewer.
“We wanted to follow up last season with another good season,” Latendresse said. “We didn’t want last year to be a fluke and it wasn’t. We’ve been consistent throughout the year. We’ve improved since Day 1.”
The Eagles are also in a different predicament compared to a year ago. For starters, they are healthy entering the playoffs this season.
“We had a lot of injuries at the end of last season,” Latendresse said. “That was tough. Sammy (Dexter) was hurt and Chase (Cunningham) had (mononucleosis). We are in a totally different place as far as health is concerned.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640