Chase Cunningham remembers skating off the ice deflated and defeated. He remembers sitting in a silent locker room, unsure of what to say or do.

Losing a state final, as the Messalonskee hockey team did to Greely last March, can have that effect.

“Awful,” Cunningham, a Messalonskee junior, said. “It was a heart-breaker. It was just an awful feeling. I just sat there and didn’t know what to do. Nobody was talking. It was all quiet. But now we have another chance.”

A chance for redemption comes today for Messalonskee (18-2-0), which will play Greely (16-4-0) in the Class B state championship game for a second consecutive season.

The Eagles and Rangers will face off at 1 p.m. at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Greely beat Messalonskee 6-2 in the title game last season.

“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” Cunningham said. “We have to make the most of our second chance.”

Today is the fourth time in two seasons the teams will square off. The Rangers won the last three, including 8-4 last month at Sukee Arena.

Greely junior center Ted Hart scored a hat trick in the third period of that game. Hart, who leads the Rangers with 50 points (34 goals, 16 assists), also scored a hat trick in a 7-1 win over Camden Hills in the Western B championship game Wednesday night.

“We knew Messalonskee was the team to beat the East,” Hart said. “We weren’t really surprised to see them win. They play a pretty quick game. They have a lot of speed and skill.”

Greely coach Barry Mothes agreed, saying he expects an up-tempo game.

“The tempo of the games we’ve had with them has made for entertaining games,” he said.
Reid Howland (35 points), Mitchel Donovan (32) and defenseman Kyle Megathlin (22) also provide scoring punch for the Rangers. Sophomore goalie Kyle Kramlich is 12-2-0 with a 2.19 goals against average.

But the offense starts with Hart, who’s been white-hot down the stretch.

“Ted has ramped up his game,” Mothes said. “He’s had a strong couple of months. He’s been averaging two goals a game since January.”

Added Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse: “He’s dangerous. He can take over a game. You have to be aware of him.”

The Eagles counter with the Cunninghams, Chase and Jared. The brothers have combined for 141 points in 20 games to form the most dangerous one-two punch in Class B.

Chase leads the team with 74 points (34 goals, 40 assists). Jared isn’t far behind, with 32 goals and 35 assists. Josh Towle, who skates on the top line with the Cunninghams, has 45 points.

“That line does a nice job of sharing the puck,” Mothes said. “ Sometimes it can be difficult for high school players to be generous with the puck, but they play the game the right way. They move the puck to the open guy and then move to space. They don’t try to do too much themselves. I appreciate the way they play.”

The Eagles will also look for first-year starting goalie Ben Weeks to continue his strong play of late. Weeks backed up Nate DelGiudice last season but saw limited action.

“I got minimal time last year,” Weeks said, “but I learned a lot from Nate. We’re ready for this. This is the game we’ve been waiting for all season.”

Both teams come into the showdown with potent offenses.

Messalonskee has scored at least five goals in 15 of its 20 games. Greely has scored five or more goals in 14 games.

“They rotate three lines as easily as anybody,” Latendresse said. “They can keep coming at you. We’ve got a second chance against them and hopefully we can come out on top.”

Added Chase Cunningham: “They are fast and they can move the puck really well. They don’t take a lot of penalties, either. We’re going to have to make the most of our chances. We know it’s not going to be an easy game. It’s going to take the game of our year. We’ll be ready to go.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640
[email protected]

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