It’s not often a team can make a statement, or at the least raise a few eyebrows, in a loss, but that’s just what the Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop co-operative hockey team did at Bangor last Saturday.

The Hawks lost their opener to Bangor, one of the Eastern A favorites, 4-2 and one of the Rams’ goals was an empty netter.

“We certainly made it interesting,” MHW coach Andy Dube said. “We showed we can play with those guys. It was a 3-2 game for most of the third period. We had our chances.”

Dan Condon, who led Eastern A in scoring last season, scored both goals for MHW, which host Gardiner (0-1-0) at 8:30 tonight. Condon skates with Jared Hanson and Matt Plourde on one of the top lines in East A. Plourde had an assist on both goal and goalie Tyler Plante stopped 36 shots.

MHW, which lost in the Eastern A quarterfinals last season, has high expectations and Dude said his team is more prepared this season. The Hawks started 0-2-0 last season.

“Last year we really struggled at the start and this season we played more exhibition games,” he said. “That really helped. We played Messalonskee, Brewer and Scarborough. Those games really helped prepare us.”

• • •

Gardiner opens the season with a very tough schedule. The Tigers to defending Class B state champion Greely 6-0 in their opener on Saturday. Next up for Gardiner is games against MHW, Messalonskee, Yarmouth and Cony — all playoff teams last season.

“We have four games in about a week and none of those teams are slouches,” Gardiner coach Jeff Ross said. “It’s a tough start to the season, but we know there are a lot of Heal points to be had.”

The Tigers played the Rangers tough in stretches Saturday and the game was tied after the first period.

“We had a couple bad breaks in the second, and things just didn’t go our way,” Ross said.

Ross is using as many as eight forwards on the top two lines, rotating in several left wingers. Josh Moore and Alex Nadeau skate on one line while Matt Farris and Hunter Belanger are on another. Wingers Courtney Cotnoir, Reid Cotnoir and Logan Peacock see action on both lines.

“It seems to be working out,” Ross said.

• • •

A pair of Cony freshmen had impressive debuts Saturday against Leavitt.

Anthony Brunelle scored a hat trick and Tom Small, who attends Monmouth Academy, had 18 saves in a 5-1 victory.

Normally a defenseman, Brunelle moved up front because the Rams are without injured forwards Cody Pelletier and Connor Perry.

“That’s when the kids make you look pretty smart,” Cony coach Chad Foye said with a laugh.

Both got “dinged up” in a preseason game against Lawrence last week, Foye said.

“Our goaltender did a nice job,” Foye said. “A freshman goalie, you always worry how he will adjust to the varsity level. He played really, really well. Hopefully, that will continue.”

Cony (1-0-0) plays at Lewiston (0-1-0) on Wednesday.

“We’re going to find out more about ourselves,” Foye said.

• • •

The Messalonskee hockey team opened defense of its Eastern B championship Saturday night against John Bapst with an unfamiliar result: A 1-0 victory. The Eagles averaged about eight goals a game last year but returned a different team.

Leading-scorer Sam Dexter graduated and key forward James Varney opted to play junior hockey this fall.

“It was a good, evenly matched game,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “For our first time out, we performed well. We had our chances but just couldn’t score. Sometimes that happens. But we got a win, and it’s a good way to get on the board.”

Jared Cunningham scored the goal and Ben Weeks stopped 20 shots to earn his first shutout.

“You can’t ask for more than that,” Latendresse said. “Ben played well. I think you could see that as the game went along his confidence grew.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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