WINSLOW — All it took was one game this season for the Winslow boys ice hockey team to get a little payback.

After getting knocked out in the opening round of the 2013 playoffs in a 4-3 overtime loss to John Bapst, the Black Raiders got some redemption Saturday night with their season-opening 7-6 win over the Crusaders at Sukee Arena.

“There was a little sweet revenge there. The kids brought it up, I didn’t,” Winslow coach Andy Dube said. “They beat us twice last year, and the second time obviously knocked us out of the playoffs.”

Clearly it is still very early in the season, but Saturday’s win holds more meaning than just getting back at the team that knocked them out of the playoffs. It showed this year’s version of the Black Raiders may be better than the previous edition.

“Last year we probably would have dropped this one,” Dube said, citing the strides his team has made in chemistry and experience as to why they came out on top.

More importantly, it was the way Winslow won. The Black Raiders held a 6-2 lead heading into the final period, but the Crusaders answered with four straight goals to tie the game with 2:39 remaining.

Rather than completely collapse, Winslow showed some grit as Alex Berard’s third goal of the game with a little over one minute remaining sealed the win.

• • •

The Black Raiders will need to bring that same resolve Wednesday — weather permitting — when they face defending Class B champ Messalonskee in the Eagle’s season opener.

“The kids are kind of (chomping) at the bit to get going,” first-year Messalonskee coach Joe Hague said, “If the kids come out and play it should be a good game. I think (Winslow) definitely improved. I’ve been out the league for few years but coach Dube has done a real good job.”

The Eagles were supposed to play Houlton/Hogdon on Saturday but the game was postponed due to inclement weather. The extra time has allowed Hague to sort out his lines.

“We have three very solid lines, two that are goal-scoring lines without a doubt,” Hague said. “The third will develop very soon as they start to gel.”

Messalonskee’s top line promises to be an exciting one with forwards Jared Cunningham, Dylan Brown and Jake Dexter. Brandon Nale and Dylan Burton will be the top defensive pairing, but Hague did say the versatile Nale could see some time at forward.

Hague said he has been impressed by what he has seen in practice from his second line of Devin Pickett, Dustin Brown and Tanner Michaud, while the third line of Shea McCann, Will Weeks and Jack Moore has taken on a more physical, defensive-minded identity.

Hague also noted that twin brothers Dylan and Dustin Brown could see some time on the ice together.

• • •

Most local teams were scheduled to open up the regular season this past weekend, however, mother nature had other plans.

“It’s an inconvenience, it’s not really tough,” Cony/Monmouth coach Chad Foye said. “You want to get games in but the weather throws a wrinkle in every now and then. It’s just something you have to deal with.”

The Rams — along with Skowhegan/Lawrence, Messalonskee, Waterville and Maranacook/Winthrop/Hall-Dale — all have yet to play a game, and they may have to wait even longer to get in their first one.

Each of the five teams are scheduled to play either Tuesday or Wednesday, yet those contests will once again carry the ‘wait and see’ tag with precipitation in the forecast through Friday.

• • •

The Gardiner Tigers look more like cubs at this point, but it was nonetheless a solid debut for the young team Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to Cape Elizabeth.

“I thought we’d go down to Cape and get handled pretty well,” Gardiner coach Jeff Ross said. “We’re really young and we came out and played quite well. We gave up a power play goal in the first and we had a three or four minute stretch of the second where we didn’t play. The rest of the game we played pretty well.

“…The kids have really shown some improvement over the first couple weeks of the season.”

Gardiner has enough depth to skate three lines, however, the bulk of them are composed of either freshmen or sophomores.

Junior Logan Peacock is the elder statesman on the first line along with sophomores Jake Folsom and Sarah Morgan, while the top defensive pairing has been freshmen Sloan Berthieume and sophomore Hunter Russell.

Ross noted that his five defenders have been pretty even, but only one of them — junior Joe Berglund — is an upperclassmen. Junior forward Reid Cotnoir plays on the second line, while remaining spots on the second and third line are comprised of three sophomores and two freshmen. Mike Poirier, the team’s starting goaltender who made 59 saves against Cape Elizabeth, is a sophomore.

“When I say we’re young, we are young,” Ross said.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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