Chase Cunningham turned in one of the most dominant seasons in Messalonskee hockey program history his junior year, scoring 79 points to earn player of the year honors in Eastern B.
The encore wasn’t too shabby, either.
Cunningham scored 82 points this season and led Messalonskee to its first state title, a dominant 6-2 win over Gorham.
The speedy senior became the all-time leading scorer in program history with 251 points (100 goals and 151 assists) and earned player of year honors a second consecutive season.
For his accomplishments this season, Cunningham is the Morning Sentinel Hockey Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“He’s a special kid,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “I loved having him around and he is respected by his teammates. He’s a special hockey player and a special person as well. The recognition he’s getting is well deserved. He just had a tremendous season.”
Even that may be an understatement.
Cunningham finished with 33 goals and 49 assists for a whopping 82 points. He was a force at both ends of the ice and helped the Eagles to an unblemished 21-0-0 season.
He scored a goal and two assists in the Class B state title game, a 6-1 thumping of Gorham.
The victory came after back-to-back losses to Greely in that game.
Redemption, Cunningham said, is something he’ll never forget.
“It was amazing,” he said. “It was definitely the way I wanted to go out. After being there two straight years and not having it go your way, this was sweet. Things just finally went our way.”
And Cunningham was a big reason why they did.
He dominated defenders with breath-taking moves and featured one of the more accurate shots in Eastern B, if not the state.
Furthermore, Cunningham served as captain this season, a role that required him to step out of a comfort zone and become a leader.
“Chase has so many different skills,” Latendresse said. “He’s a great passer and a great goal scorer. He has great vision and is great with the puck. This year, he became a leader. He continued what he did last year into this year and was a leader at the same time. He was not really a vocal guy, but he let his play do the talking.
He did a lot of really, really good things on the ice, and that is the reason he’s player that he is. His work ethic is just tremendous. He’s done great things for the Messalonskee hockey program.”
Cunningham plans to attend Kennebec Valley Community College in the fall. Although he had opportunities to play juniors, Cunningham said his competitive hockey days are over.
“This is the way I wanted to go out,” he said. I’m going to take it easy with hockey. I won’t ever forge this season. It’s how I wanted it all to end.”