The boys high school hockey regular season wraps up this week and several teams will shift their focus to the postseason.

One of them is Skowhegan, which is headed to the postseason for the first time in 10 years.

“We’ve tried to build some separation,” Skowhegan coach Jeff Fowler said. “We’re pretty fired up. We’ve had to work hard for everything we get.”

The Indians (7-8-2), thanks to a scheduling mishap, are playing primarily Class B teams despite competing in Eastern A.

However, the Maine Principals’ Association granted Skowhegan Eastern A playoff eligibility this season should it finish in the top eight.

The Indians entered play Monday in eighth place with a sizable lead over their closest pursuers — Poland-Gray/New Gloucester (3-13-0), Mt. Ararat/Lisbon (5-10-1) and Waterville (4-13-0).

“We’re playing pretty good hockey,” Fowler said. “We’ve come a long way since last year.”

Skowhegan, which has a co-operative agreement with Madison, won just one game last season. It closes the regular season against Brewer (16-1-0) on Wednesday. A victory would propel the Indians to at least seventh. A loss would likely mean a prelim game this weekend at Sukee Arena.

“We’re very pleased,” Fowler said. “Our work isn’t done. We need to try to play to our potential and play smart. We need to play with intelligence.”

Elsewhere in Eastern A, Lewiston (13-4-1) and Bangor (12-5-0) are dueling for the top seed and are separated by a couple of points.

St. Dominic (11-6-0) will go in as the third seed while Cony (13-4-0) — winners of just four games last season — is poised to finish fourth.

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The playoff situation for Waterville is pretty clear.

“It’s do or die with Bangor,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “We have to win.”

The Panthers face the Rams on Thursday in Bangor. A win would push the Purple Panthers into ninth place, which would set up a prelim game with Skowhegan.

The Panthers lost a tough 3-2 decision Monday morning to Lewiston.

Waterville senior JT Whitten scored two goals to give him 23 points for the season.

“We hung in there,” Martin said. “Don’t count us out yet. We’re not done yet. We haven’t thrown in the towel.”

Waterville lost a 5-2 decision to Bangor on Jan. 28, but it’s played good hockey since. The Panthers are 2-2-0 in its last four games, including close losses to Lewiston and Biddeford.

“We’re giving everything we have,” Martin said. “We’ve come up a bit short, but we’re playing good hockey.”

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Messalonskee (14-3-0) will enter the Eastern B playoffs as the No. 2 seed.

It will likely play Orono (7-8-2) or John Bapst (8-9-0) in a quarterfinal game tentatively set for Feb. 28.

Messalonskee defeated Orono 3-2 and John Bapst 4-1 in the regular season.

“No matter who we play it won’t be an easy matchup,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “You just never know. I do like the position we’re in. We’ve had a really good regular season and now we have to prepare ourselves. We want to go into the playoffs with some momentum.”

The Eagles can do so with a victory over Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop (9-8-0) on Wednesday at Sukee Arena.

“It’s an important game for us,” added Latendresse, whose team is coming off a 3-1 loss to Western B frontrunner Greely. “One thing we don’t want to do is finish on a two-game losing streak. That is how we’ll approach it. Then we will see who we’ll play.”

The Eagles may be without top line forward Chase Cunningham, who missed Saturday’s game with Greely with an illness. Latendresse said there is no rush to get Cunningham back into the lineup.

“We don’t need him for Wednesday, but we’d love for him to be in there,” Latendresse said. “We really just want him healthy for the playoffs. We’ll see how he feels.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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