The Cony and Gardiner hockey teams combined for just nine victories last season. Both missed the playoffs.

This season, the Tigers and Rams each opened the season with impressive victories to earn some much-needed confidence.

Cony beat Edward Little 4-3 on Saturday after Gardiner edged Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop (MHW) 5-3 on Friday.

“It was a real big start,” Gardiner second-year coach Jeff Ross said. “We played a great game. It was a much better start to this season.”

Gardiner, which competes in Western B, opened last season with losses at Presque Isle and Houlton/Hodgdon. The Tigers were out-scored 13-1 in those games.

“It was a big confidence boost for us,” Ross said. “We felt pretty good with how we played. It’s a long season, though, and we still have a lot to work on.”

Bryant Whitley scored three goals and Seth Wing added a pair for the Tigers, who play at Lawrence (1-0-0) on Wednesday.

Cony, meanwhile, scored two third-period goals and then hung on to beat the Red Eddies.

“We did a lot of things well for the most part,” first-year Cony coach Chad Foye said. “We’re pretty happy with the start.”

Galen Casey had a goal and two assists for the Rams, who play MHW (0-1-0) on Monday.

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MHW coach Andy Dube said his team has plenty to work on after losing to Gardiner.

The Hawks, who host Bangor today, trailed 4-1 before scoring twice early in the third period to make things interesting.

“Defensively, we didn’t play well,” Dube said. “It was a tough loss. I think some of our kids may have been a little over-confident. We played a good game but we had a couple of breakdowns in the neutral zone, which hurt. There are a lot of fundamental things we have to correct. We have to tighten up our play in the defensive zone, too.”

 

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Gardiner and Cony received permission from the Maine Principals’ Association to practice on Sundays this season.

The teams were displaced after the Kennebec Ice Arena collapsed in March.

With a shortage of available ice time, the Tigers and Rams were allowed to skate on Sundays for two hours at Kents Hill.

“I’m a big flow guy and I like everyone skating and moving,” Ross said. “So a two-hour practice is good for me because it allows me time to slow down and really focus on situational stuff. It’s good to have.

“When you only have an hour, you can break down defensive zone coverage and the next thing you know practice is over.”

Added Foye: “It does feel a little weird, a little odd, but we are thankful to have the time we have. There is so much we can accomplish and so much you can go over. You do have to be careful because toward the end of it the kids are mentally shot. There’s only so much you can put in.”

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Messalonskee goalie Nate DelGiudice had an unusual experience in goal Saturday in the Eagles’ 4-0 win over Winslow. The senior faced just 17 shots, well below the 45 he averaged a game last season.

“Our defense is really improved,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “Our (defensemen) played really, really well.”

The addition of Travis St. Pierre, who played at Kents Hill last season, bolstered the Eagles defense this season. Dominic Dexter also played a strong game. Defensemen Kalib Bernatchez and Tyler Simpson also contributed.

“We have good balance back there,” Latendresse said.

Added DelGiudice: “It was nice. The defense didn’t allow many shots. That first game is always the biggest because it sets the tone for the rest of the season.”

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The Renegade Network — the brainchild of Vassalboro native Kevin Bernatchez — enters its fifth season broadcasting hockey games live on the internet.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We look forward to it every year, and we’re doing more.”

Bernatchez said more than 20 games will be shown live on www.renegadenetwork.org. this season. Bernatchez and crew will broadcast mostly games from Sukee Arena, but will expand its coverage to the Androscoggin Bank Colisee after the New Year.

The games will also be re-broadcast on Time Warner Channel 9 every Monday at 8 p.m.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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