LEWISTON — Every day at 2 p.m. Tommy Small catches a ride, usually from parents and grandparents, from Monmouth Academy to his “other” home — the Bank of Maine of Ice Vault.
It’s there when Small, a sophomore, reunites with his Cony/Monmouth hockey teammates.
“It’s different,” Small said. “It’s not tough, just kind of different.”
Small is the lone Monmouth student on the Cony/Monmouth co-operative team. The starting goalie turned in another standout season for the seventh-seeded Rams (9-8-1), who played at No. 2 Lewiston (14-4-0) in an Eastern A quarterfinal late Monday night.
Coupled with his position, and Small is certainly in a unique position.
“There is a lot of figuring out schedules,” he said. “I have to leave school at 2 p.m. every day so I can get to the rink by 2:20. There’s a lot going on.”
Added Cony/Monmouth coach Chad Foye: “He’s in a different position because he’s not around the guys in school. I don’t think he gets the support at games like the Cony kids do. But that doesn’t really bother him, either.”
Small, like he did last year, helped the Rams qualify for the Eastern A playoffs.
He said his game improved from his freshman year — as did his confidence and comfort level.
“It’s been different being with the guys a second year,” Small said. “I kind of know what to expect. I feel like I know what’s going on. Last year was an adjustment because I had to get used to bigger guys playing against me.
“This year I’ve really worked on not just making the one big first save, but to be able to control the rebounds. That was a little bit of a problem last year. I am also working on when to play the puck.”
Foye said he can tell right away when Small is on his game.
“When he gets square to the puck, you know he’s on,” he said. “He’s let in some goals when he’s not focused. He’s let in some goals that I know he wish he would’ve stopped. But he’s saved our bacon this year. He’s had some really big games for us.”
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Most regional quarterfinal games are Tuesday, but a scheduling conflict at the Colisee in Lewiston forced the Blue Devils and Rams to go a night earlier.
Also in Eastern A, No. 4 Lawrence/Skowhegan (12-6-0) will host No. 5 Brunswick (10-7-1) at 5 p.m. at Sukee Arena.
Lawrence/Skowhegan enters the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in Eastern A. The Bandits have won seven of their last eight games. Their season-ending run came after a 5-1 loss to Brunswick on Jan. 25.
“We’re a different team now,” Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Ted Fabian said. “We’re clicking at the right time.”
Chase Nelson leads the Bandits with 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists). Cody Martin has a team-high 25 goals as well.
With the imposing Sam Edmondson in net, the Bandits present a few matchup problems to the Dragons.
“We’ve improved in all aspects of the game,” Fabian said. “I just told the guys that you can’t be emotionally attached. We have to keep our emotions in check. We’re very excited to be in the playoffs but we need to be focused as well.”
Elsewhere Tuesday, No. 7 Maranacook/Winthrop (7-11-0) will play at No. 2 Camden Hills (13-4-1) in a Western B quarterfinal.
The Windjammers handled the Black Bears 5-1 in the regular season meeting Feb. 12.