WATERVILLE — Chase Cunningham has had his share of memorable performances the last few years.
Saturday night, the Messalonskee senior stepped on the Alfond Rink ice and enjoyed another one in a 7-2 rout of Waterville.
Cunningham scored five goals to give him 77 in his career as the fast-flying Eagles cruised to their sixth straight victory to open the season.
“Chase is a special player,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “He has a great hockey mind and just great abilities. He has some of the best hands I’ve seen in high school hockey.”
Jared Cunningham and Brandon Nale also scored for Messalonskee (6-0-0), which scored six unanswered goals after Waterville (4-1-1) tied the game at 1-1 late in the first period.
Dalton Denis and Nick Denis scored for the Purple Panthers.
“Messalonskee is underrated as a group,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “They are not undefeated for nothing, They are a very, very good team.”
The teams were tied 1-1 when Messalonskee struck for a pair of goals just 13 seconds apart late in the first period.
Nale gave the Eagles the lead for good when he blasted a shot past Waterville goalie Kaleb Kane from deep inside the right circle with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left in the first period.
Nale, after charging down the right wing, took a nice pass Dylan Brown and buried the puck past Kane to the short side.
Then, 13 seconds later, the Eagles stunned the Panthers with Chase Cunningham’s first goal of the evening.
Jared Cunningham won an offensive zone draw and pushed the puck out to his older brother, who then ripped a shot past Kane from the high slot.
“I went bottom left,” Chase Cunningham said. “It was a designed play. Jared knew where I was and he got it to me. It was pretty big to get those quick goals like that.”
Indeed, it was.
Waterville, which struggled to contain Messalonskee in transition, never recovered.
Chase Cunningham scored a pair of goals about five minutes apart in the second period as the Eagles surged ahead before a large crowd.
“This is one of the better transition games we’ve played this season,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “This is not an easy game. It’s a rivalry game. Any game we play with a team that is close by, like Winslow or Lawrence/Skowhegan, it’s always difficult. It’s such an intense game.”
Chase Cunningham scored a short-handed goal midway through the third period to make it 7-1 before Waterville senior Dalton Denis beat Messalonskee goalie Ben Weeks in the final minute.
“We didn’t play well,” Martin said. “Messalonskee capitalized on all their opportunities. They are a tough team.”