WINSLOW — Messalonskee High School sophomore Brandon Nale pestered coach Joe Hague about a position switch almost constantly. “Coach, I want to play forward. Coach, I want to play forward,” Nale said, over and over.

Turns out, Nale was right.

Moving from defense to forward for Tuesday night’s game against rival Winslow, Nale proved to be an offensive spark, scoring a hat trick as the Eagles took a come from behind, 6-5 win at Sukee Arena.

“We finally gave him the opportunity, and what does he do? He goes out and scores two goals in that second period. That got our momentum going,” Messalonskee junior Jared Cunningham, who scored a pair of goals, including the go ahead goal early in the third period, said.

Actually, Nale scored once in each period, but it was his second period goal that proved to be a spark. With Messalonskee (1-0) trailing 4-2 and the Black Raiders (1-1) on the power play late in the second, Nale scored the first of Messalonskee’s two power play goals in the final two and a half minutes of the period.

“I knew I had some offense in me. I knew it would help the team, honestly,” Nale said.

After Nale cut Winslow’s lead to 4-3, Dylan Burton scored a short handed goal at 14:22 to tie the game.

“You could feel the energy just shift with us (after the shorthanded goals). Nale moved up. It was a quick transition. He has good hands, and he’s an exceptional offensive asset, too,” Hague said. “He came up and gave us that extra punch we needed.”

“On the PK, we basically think of it as five on five. We just go and we just get the job done,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham scored the game with at 4:53 of the third, coming in alone on Winslow goalie Andrew Beals for the unassisted goal.

“I just saw an opening and I just took advantage of it. I went to the net hard,” Cunningham said.

Nale completed his hat trick less than a minute later, giving the Eagles a 6-4 lead at the 5:43 mark. Winslow cut the deficit to 6-5 on a Jake Larsen goal at 11:24. The Black Raiders ended the game on the power play, but could not slip the tying goal past Messalonskee keeper Elijah Tuell.

“They’ve got some kids who can carry the play almost at will, and they just stepped it up. We let down a little, got caught on our heels,” Winslow coach Andy Dube said.

Winslow controlled the first half of the game. The Black Raiders took an early 3-0 lead, scoring three goals in the first six minutes of the game. Larsen scored just 19 seconds into the game to give Winslow a 1-0 lead. at 3:04, Jimmy Fowler scored for a 2-0 lead. at the 6:00 mark, Alex Berard scored on a wrap around for a 3-0 cushion.

Messalonskee’s scheduled opener on Saturday against Houlton/Hodgdon was postponed due to weather, and that may have contributed to the flat start, Hague said.

“The kids really wanted a tune up (game) last Saturday, and the snow hampered that. It’s a rivalry game. Sometimes it just takes a couple goals against you to figure out how deep you have to dig, and these kids dug down deep and really executed when they should have at the end,” Hague said.

Nale’s first goal, a power play goal, midway through the first put the Eagles on the board. Winslow pushed its lead to 4-1 in the second, when Larsen scored a shorthanded goal at 3:33.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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