OAKLAND — When Mike Latendresse became Messalonskee hockey coach 12 years ago, he took over a program that needed some stability.

He’s going to leave it in much, much better shape.

Latendresse, who guided the Eagles to Class B state championship and an undefeated record last season, recently resigned to pursue other opportunities.

“It was the right time,” Latendresse said. “We’ve accomplished a lot here. I do believe it is the right time to move forward and explore other options.”

Latendresse also served as a volunteer assistant at Colby under head coach Blaise MacDonald last season.

Latendresse, 43, of Oakland, enjoyed his time with the Mules and could be in line to join MacDonald’s staff on a full-time basis.

However, Latendresse said nothing is imminent and MacDonald wasn’t available for comment.

“There are potential opportunities out there,” Latendresse said. “I’m exploring my options.”

Latendresse oversaw a pair of transitions — the program jumped from Class B to A in 2001 then returned to B for the 2010-11 season. The former University of Maine standout forward also guided one of the most dominant stretches in program history.

The Eagles went 57-7-0 in the last three seasons, including 21-0-0 last year.

Messalonskee lost to Greely in back-to-back Class B state games — in 2011-12 and 2012-13 — before it finally found redemption last season by burying Gorham 6-1 to win the title.

“It’s been special,” said Latendresse, who co-owns Joseph’s Sporting Goods in Waterville. “It really has. To accomplish what we have is something else. I’ve also been very fortunate to have been surrounded by great people. I have had some wonderful coaches around. We’ve been to three straight championship games and we’ve won one of them. I’ve really, really enjoyed the last 12 years. We’ve been through a lot as a program. We’ve moved around in Class A and B, and we’ve had some success.”

Jared Cunningham, who scored 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points last season, said Latendresse will be missed.

“When he said he wasn’t coming back, I just didn’t know what to say,” Cunningham said. “It was emotional. It’s such a big loss. He pushes you every day. He wants you to be successful. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had. I wish he were coming back. It’s tough.”

Messalonskee athletic director Tom Hill said he hopes to fill the position by the end of September.

“We’re in the process of filling the position,” Hill said. “We’ll give it a few weeks or so to see what we get for applications and then go from there. We’ll take a look at everything. Hopefully, we’ll get a good pool of applicants.

“This is obviously a very big loss for us. I knew Mike wanted to go to the next level and he has an opportunity to do so. I knew this would happen at some point but I just wish he could’ve been here a little longer. He’s a great coach on and off the ice.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartmtm

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