The Winslow girls hockey team will wrap up its regular season this week with three games.
The Black Raiders hope they can extend their season with a few victories.
“It’s never over until it’s over,” Winslow coach Chris Downing said. “With one or two wins this week, we might be able to sneak in. We’re still in it.”
Five out of the seven teams will qualify for the East Division playoffs. At 2-12-0, the Raiders are last in Heal points, but No. 6 Brunswick (2-12-1) and No. 5 Mt. Ararat (3-12-1) are within their sights.
Mt. Ararat and Winslow played Monday night. Winslow will also face Gorham/Bonny Eagle (5-10-0) and Greely (10-4-0) this week.
Two victories in the three games may be enough to push the Raiders into the playoffs.
“It’s what we’re hoping for,” Downing said. “We’ve been battling every game.”
Winslow has played well defensively this season. It’s allowing just 2.9 goals a game.
“We can’t put the puck in the net,” Downing said. “It’s tough to win games when you can’t score goals. A lot of it is just our inexperience.”
Winslow has just 11 goals in 14 games. It’s been shut out seven times.
“We’ve tried everything,” Downing added. “We’ve switched up lines and moved our defensemen up. We’ve tried dumping the puck in and chasing it to put pressure on our opponents. We’ve tried a lot of different things. We just need the experience. We are all seniors and sophomores this year. It’s a transtion year for us.”
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Waterville picked up a pair of big wins against Presque Isle and Houlton/Hodgdon to take a firm grasp on second place in Eastern B.
The Purple Panthers (8-3-1) haved won three straight games since losing a tough 4-3 overtime decision to Winslow on Jan. 15.
“So far, we’re in good shape,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “As a team we’re starting to get better and better. We’ve been playing some good hockey.”
Waterville, which lost key forward Dalton Denis (violated team policy) for the season, is benfitting from the recent strong play of forward Nick Denis, goalie Kaleb Kane and forward Tommy Samson, among others.
Kane scame up big in a 2-1 victory over Presque Isle last Friday, stopping Andrew Michaud on a penalty shot with 1 minute, 16 seconds left in regulation.
Denis has a team-leading 15 goals while Samson picked up a goal and three assists last weekend.
“Nick has really stepped up,” Martin said. “He’s had quite a season. He’s been a big boost. Tommy has just been real solid, too. We’re just playing really well right now.”
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Lawrence/Skowhegan entered action Monday night 5-5-0 and holding onto the seventh and final berth in Eastern A.
The Bandits had won three of their final four games entering a showdown with Edward Little on Monday.
“The kids are more focused this year,” Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Ted Fabian said. “We’ve had some adversity but we’ve handled it well.”
The Bandits likely lost senior captain Andrew Carpenter (broken collarbone) for the season. He had surgery last week. His absence created a void in the Bandits lineup at both ends of the ice.
“He did so much for us,” Fabian said. “He’s a special player who is really irreplaceable. With him being out, it’s brought some adversity. We’ve needed a lot of other guys to step up.”
One of them is junior Tyler Tompkins, who’s overcome a few knee injuries to remain productive.
“He’s really stepped up for us,” Fabian said. “He’s missed a bunch of games because of knee injuries but he’s just a smart hockey player. He’s doing really well for us.”
Fabian also likes what he sees in one of his top lines that features Chase Nelson, Chase Whittemore and Trey Michonski. The trio attend Skowhegan Area High School, but Fabian said that is just a coincidence.
“I really try to separate players,” he said. “We don’t make decisions based on what school they go to. It’s not healthy to do that. But it so happens these guys are playing well together. We’ll see. The lines always change.”
Bill Stewart — firstname.lastname@example.org