The Gardiner hockey team knew it would play some tough games this season, particularly with so many fresh faces playing pivotal roles.
But after dropping their first seven games by a combined 36-12, the Tigers suddenly found themselves wondering when that first victory would come.
“We weren’t panicking,” Gardiner coach Jeff Ross said. “No one was getting on each other. There was no finger-pointing. We knew we just had to keep going after it. We just had to keep working hard for it.”
The work finally paid off for Gardiner, which outlasted Leavitt 4-2 last Wednesday to earn its first victory of the season.
Alex Nadeau scored the eventual game-winning goal on the power play just 1 minute, 45 seconds into the third period.
“Last year our power play was a strength but we have four new guys on the first unit this year,” said Ross, whose team played Winslow on Monday night. “We knew it was going to be a process, and we had two power-play goals against Leavitt. It was nice to see.”
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It’s been a little more than four months since Cony/Monmouth senior captain defenseman Zach Gagne had surgery on his left knee.
Gagne, who provides a stabilizing presence for the Rams (6-5-0), is still finding his way on the ice.
“I’m not 100 percent,” he said. “It’s been a process. My doctors said it was OK to play and I didn’t want to miss much time in my senior year. I just want to do what I can.”
Cony/Monmouth coach Chad Foye said Gagne still provides a lift even if he isn’t 100 percent.
“He’s worked really hard in his rehab,” he said. “If he has time to anticipate, he can make the play. If he has to react quickly, sometimes he reaches. It happens, but he does so much for us.”
Gagne scored the lone goal for the Rams in a 6-1 loss to Waterville on Monday afternoon.
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Not much, if anything, has slowed Messalonskee this season.
Last weekend, the Eagles overcame a quirk in the schedule, posting consecutive 6-0 victories over Orono/Old Town and Hampden Academy.
The Eagles (9-0-0) blanked Orono/Old Town at the Alfond Arena in Orono on Friday night and didn’t return home until after 11:30 p.m.
They returned to the ice about 12 hours later and promptly shut out the Broncos at Sukee Arena.
“It wasn’t easy,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “It was a great effort. We talked on Thursday about the schedule. To play in Orono and then come back 12 hours later, it’s not easy to do. Mentally and physically, it’s not easy to do. But we played well.”
Goalie Elijah Tuell earned his first start of the season Friday night and posted the shutout with 11 saves.
“It was good to get him in there,” Latendresse said.
Chase Cunningham continued his torrid pace as well, scoring a goal and five assists against Hampden.
The team returns to action Wednesday at Brewer.
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Around the state: Both Scarborough teams are first in Heal points in their respective divisions. The girls are 14-0-0 and lead the West division. The boys, meanwhile, are 7-1-1 entering Monday and sit atop Western A. … Despite a 2-5-1 mark, the Greely boys are fifth in Western B and in excellent shape to qualify for the playoffs. The Rangers play one of the more difficult schedules among Class B teams. … Cheverus (6-2-1) has allowed more than two goals in a game just once this season — a 7-3 win over Yarmouth. … Camden Hills (8-0-1) has scored 69 goals in nine games for an average of 7.7 a game. The Windjammers have scored at least 10 goals in four games.
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Games of the week: Messalonskee plays at Brewer in an Eastern B game Wednesday. The teams met in the 2011-12 regional final, won by the Eagles. … Winslow (5-4-0) will play at Cony/Monmouth (5-4-0) on Saturday at the Bank of Maine Ice Vault at 5:30 p.m.