The Lewiston Area Hockey Club struggled to play or practice with a full lineup during the Midget Tier II Under-18 season last fall.

But when all 19 players finally played together, the result made it worth the wait.

The Lewiston club, which featured two Messalonskee High School players, won the Tier II U-18 USA Hockey 1A national championship earlier this month in Ohio with a dominating performance.

“It was a very unique team,” LA coach Bob Parker said. “We never had a whole team. There were always people missing from the fall practices or games. But when we went out there, it was magic.”

Players from Messalonskee, Lewiston, St. Dominic and Hebron Academy comprised the team. Goalie Nate DelGiudice and defenseman Travis St. Pierre represented Messalonskee. St. Pierre played at Kents Hill this past season.

The players tried out for the team last April and played 20 games in the fall. LA won the state title, which earned it a berth in the national tournament.

The team flew to Ohio just a few weeks after Lewiston and St. Dom’s — two big rivals — played each other in the Eastern A championship game.

“It was a really good experience,” St. Pierre said. “It was a blast. This team was built for this tournament. To come out with the medal was awesome.”

Added DelGiudice: “It was a really talented team. We didn’t face many shots but we stopped what we needed to. We all became good friends.”

DelGiudice finished 3-0-0 and posted a 1.00 goals against average. St. Pierre scored six points in as many games.

The 1A tournament featured 12 teams from around the country, including ones from Oklahoma, Delaware and Georgia. LA outscored its opposition 31-8 in three pool games.

LA then defeated the Nashville Junior Predators 9-1 in the quarterfinals and the Oklahoma Oil Kings 5-1 in the semifinals.

It beat the Delaware Ducks 5-2 in the championship game.

“We didn’t know what we would be facing, but we put up some big numbers,” St. Pierre said.

Parker, of Lewiston, said he knew the team would compete for the title early in the tournament.

“When we put the team together about a year ago now, we knew we had good kids,” Parker said. “I knew I had a very good team, but you didn’t know how you would do on a national level until you get out there. When we got there, I said I needed one day to see everybody play. After seeing the teams, we felt we had best one overall.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
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