To say the Gardiner Area High School hockey team is off to a fast start would not be entirely accurate.

Yes, the Tigers (4-2-0) are among the early leaders in Class B South and have won four straight thanks to last Saturday’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale. To further put things in perspective, the Tigers are three wins away from equaling their total from a season ago and their only losses thus far have come against Yarmouth (5-0-0) and defending Class B South champ Gorham (2-4-0).

Yet, a common theme has developed for Gardiner thus far. While Gardiner head coach Sam Moore is happy with the recent outcomes, the Tigers have had trouble getting going in the first period.

“They came out really flat in the beginning,” Moore said after Saturday’s win. “Right now, we’ve got to get rid of that. It seems to be our trademark. We come out, kind of let the other teams take it to us and we’ve got to jump on the ball a little quicker.”

Gardiner spent the majority of the first period against the Rams on its heels. It managed just one shot on net — which came in the first 30 seconds — but still managed to escape the opening period with a scoreless draw thanks in large part to some sound defense and the play of goaltender Michael Poirier, who made 17 saves in the period.

It was a similar scenario in Gardiner’s 5-2 win over Greely on Dec. 19. While the Tigers and Rangers were even in shots in the first period, Greely (2-4-0) controlled much of the play and was rewarded with a 1-0 advantage heading into the second.

“A lot of it is attitude, being mentally prepared and just know that they have to want it. It comes from the heart,” Moore said after the game. “You can’t just go out there and go through the motions no matter who you’re playing.”

Jake Folsom, a junior forward, echoed similar sentiments.

“We really need to work on that,” he said. “We’re not coming to the game like we should be.”

Moore also admitted, though, that he understands the team is still relatively young and slow starts like the team has been suffering are symptomatic of said youth.

At the same token, it also provides a look at Gardiner’s potential. If the Tigers can find a way to play as well in the first period as they have in the second and third, they could be a dangerous team come playoff time.

• • •

Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale coach Chad Foye confirmed Monday that senior forward Riley Boivin suffered a concussion after a taking an open-ice hit 3:30 in to the second period in Saturday’s loss to Gardiner.

Boivin remained down for a couple minutes before being helped to a sitting position. A few moments later he skated off the ice under his own power and toward the Rams’ locker room.

“He’s got some things he’s got to work through and work through the protocol — not sure how long that’s going to take,” Foye said. “He’s going to see a doctor Wednesday and then we’ll know more from there.

“…Every person is different in how they bounce back and the timetable and that sort of thing. It’s a wait and see attitude for him. He’s been playing really well and doing a great job. We want him back as soon as possible but we want him safe too.”

The Rams will obviously have to adjust without Boivin — one of the team’s top scorers — in the lineup, but on the matter of where those changes would come from Foye was not entirely certain.

“We’re definitely going to have to adjust lines, but not positive yet what that’s going to look like,” Foye said. “Reed Hopkins could play a little more. We may shuffle somebody else up there. I’m not really sure yet what’s going to happen with that.”

• • •

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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