The Messalonskee hockey team is off to its best start in years, winning eight of its first nine games in mostly dominating fashion.

The Eagles (8-1-0) have out-scored their opposition 61-16 in nine games, and top-line forwards Sam Dexter and Chase Cunningham are each on pace to score 50 points this season.

Senior netminder Nate DelGiudice has posted three shutouts. Thanks to a much-improved defense, DelGiudice is also facing about 16 shots a game — down from about 35 he saw last season.

Despite the dominant run to start the season, Messalonskee still finds itself ranked just fourth in Eastern B Heal points.

The reasoning?

A weak first-half schedule. Messalonskee has faced just two teams — Presque Isle (6-5-0) and Brewer (9-1-0) — with winning records. The Eagles split those games.

“We are beating the teams we are supposed to, which isn’t always easy to do,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said after his team defeated Lawrence 7-1 on Saturday night. “The second half is much tougher. We’ll have to elevate our game. We’ll have a lot of opportunities to pick up some Heal points.”

Indeed, the schedule does get considerably tougher here on out.

Messalonskee hosts Eastern A playoff contender Brunswick (5-4-1) at 7:10 p.m., Wednesday. On Saturday, two-time defending Eastern B champ Brewer comes to Sukee for a 7:20 p.m. game.

“We have a lot of potential,” Latendresse said. “We haven’t accomplished anything yet, but in a week and half we’ll know a lot more of where we’re at.”

• • •

Maranacook/Hall-Dale/ Winthrop (6-3-0) will face a key test Wednesday at Eastern A frontrunner Bangor (8-1-0).

MHW is ranked second behind the Rams in Eastern A Heal points. The teams face off at 6:30 p.m.

“This is a big game for us,” MHW coach Andy Dube said. “We want to show up and jump on them right away. We want to come right at them.”
Bangor edged MHW 4-2 in the previous meeting, Dec. 13 at Kents Hill.

The Hawks will receive a big boost Wednesday with the return of key defenseman Nate Tozier, who’s missed most of this season with concussion-like symptoms, Dube said.

Dube added that Tozier received medical clearance to play and will suit up against Bangor.

“It was unexpected,” Dube said. “I didn’t think we’d see him all season. He’s finally 100 percent.”

• • •

Cony (6-3-0) is riding a two-game winning streak to keep pace in the Eastern A playoff hunt. The Rams are ranked sixth in Eastern A Heal points with the top eight making the playoffs.

The Rams blanked Skowhegan 2-0 on Saturday. Although first-year coach Chad Foye said they need to play better to make a playoff run.

“We play well in spurts but not for 45 minutes,” Foye said. “We need to learn to play 45 minutes. We’re just not going as hard as we can. I’m not all that happy with how we played.”

The Rams have received steady play from goalie Matt Swan this season.

The senior has a 2.30 goals against average.

“He’s been steady,” Foye said. “We knew going into the year he would have to be consistent, and he has been.”

• • •

Gardiner scored its biggest victory of the season Saturday, edging a depleted Cape Elizabeth squad 2-1.

The victory keeps the Tigers (6-5-0) in the hunt for a Western B playoff berth. They are ranked third in Western B Heal points with the top five earning playoff berths.

“It was a big win,” Gardiner coach Jeff Ross said. “It wasn’t one we really planned on. It wasn’t a game we had figured we would need or could get us into the playoffs. It’s a huge bonus game. The kids are just amazing us as we go.”
Cape Elizabeth (4-3-2) played without five players because of team rules violations.

“You know Cape has a lot more wins coming their way,” Ross said. “There are a lot of parts that was good for us. It is good for Heal points, to help our cause, but it’s also good for our psyche that we can stay within the system even when bad things happen. We also realized we can skate with the big boys.”

The Tigers squandered a 1-0 lead before Bryant Whitley scored the eventual game-winning goal with about six minutes in the third period.
Gardiner next plays Yarmouth (4-3-1) on Saturday.

“It’s a real big game for us,” Ross said. “They beat Greely so this would be nice to get.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

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