The Winslow High School boys hockey team has injected some new blood into its first line.

According to head coach Andy Dube, he moved freshman Tommy Tibbetts up to skate with seniors Jimmy Fowler and Jake Trask three or four games ago and the move seems to be paying off.

“Tibbetts has good hands, good speed and he sees the ice well,” Dube said after Monday’s 4-4 tie with Waterville. “He’s a playmaker, plays physical. He’s got everything he needs to play at this level.”

The move has come as a result of his play as well as necessity. Senior Jacob Grenier had been playing with Fowler and Trask, but due to depth issues on defense, Grenier has slid back. He is one of three active defenseman right now for the Black Raiders along with seniors David Selwood and Jacob Houghton.

“They’re covering the net,” Dube said. “They’re playing with responsibility.”

Despite playing a bit shorthanded, Winslow (4-2-2 Class B North) is 3-0-2 in its last five games after starting the season 1-2-0.

As for Tibbetts, he showed against a tough Waterville team Monday that he is in fact ready to contribute for Winslow. He scored on a rebound midway through the second period, and at times flashed play-making ability and chemistry with his fellow linemates.

“Tommy is really easy to play with,” Trask said Monday. “He always hustles all the time and any time a guy hustles all the time he’s easy to work with.”

• • •

Even though Waterville (5-0-1 Class B North) could not pick up the extra points for a win against Winslow, the Purple Panthers have still gotten off to the type of start they had hoped for heading into this season.

“I like the way we’re playing,” junior defenseman Matt Jolicoeur said. “We’re cycling, playing well as a team. Everything is looking good for us so far.”

Prior to Monday’s tie with Winslow, the Purple Panthers had been dominant. During that stretch Waterville averaged 7.6 goals per game with an average margin of victory of 5.8 goals per contest.

Even with the great start, the Purple Panthers are remaining focused on their ultimate goal.

“Obviously that one goal that we have is to win a state championship,” Jolicoeur said. “If we keep playing how we’re playing, we can get that done.

“…I really think for us it’s all a mind game and if we keep our heads up, play well defensively and play well as a team we’ll win games.”

The Purple Panthers will get a good idea of just where they stand on Wednesday, Jan. 6, when they face four-time defending regional champion Messalonskee (4-0-1 Class B North) at Sukee Arena.

Waterville could be catching the Eagles at a fortuitous time, too. Messalonskee will play Presque Isle on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at Sukee and that contest will be the only one in a three-week span for the Eagles until they face Waterville.

• • •

Every time Mike Latendresse heads to the rink he learns something new.

That was part of the allure when the former Messalonskee head coach left the Eagles to become an assistant coach with the Colby College men’s ice hockey team on a full-time basis two years ago. Latendresse said Tuesday the opportunity has helped him grow significantly as a coach.

“I’ve been around the game for a long time now but I think the experience that I’ve gained now being around (head coach) Blaise (MacDonald) and just kind of watching him has kind of helped me grow as a coach,” said Latendresse, who also helped out with the team in his final season as head coach at Messalonskee. “Blaise has been around Division I hockey for a long, long time. Actually, when I played at UMaine he was coaching against me at (Boston University) as an assistant.

“He’s got a great amount of experience. It really has been an honor to be around that and Blaise has had a lot of trust in me. It’s helped me gain a lot of experience and really learn under him.”

The Mules (3-3-2) are currently in the midst of their winter break and will resume play on New Year’s Day against Nazareth College as a part of the Plattsburgh Winter Classic in Plattsburgh, New York.

While Latendresse said his focus is on Colby, he has still found some time to keep on eye on high school hockey in the area — and particularly the Eagles.

“They won another state championship last year and it looks like they would be very capable of doing it again this year,” Latendresse said. “When you look at the league I think Waterville is probably one of the best teams in the (North). Winslow is right there as well. It’s interesting looking locally those three being among the better teams in Class B. It’s always going to have a special place in my heart and my life.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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