Those in attendance Wednesday night at Sukee Arena could be in store for an early preview of the Class B North final when the Messalonskee and Waterville hockey teams take the ice for a scheduled 7 p.m. game.

The Eagles (5-0-1) enter as the two-time defending Class B champs with a near-perfect record — the only blemish a 4-4 tie Dec. 12 against Bangor after the Rams scored a pair of late goals to force overtime.

“We prepare just like it’s any other game,” Waterville head coach Dennis Martin said. “They’re a good hockey team. They’re the two-time champs. We’ve got to respect that, of course, and they have that top line that can really put the puck in the net.”

That top line of Jared Cunningham, Brandon Nale and Jack Moore has been every bit as dangerous advertised, with Cunningham and Nale the team’s top two scorers. Unlike last season, though, Messalonskee has more to offer in the scoring department than just its top line. The second line of Devin Pickett, Dylan and Dustin Browne have already surpassed their scoring output from a season ago, while Dylan Burton is among the division’s best scoring defensemen.

“That second line has been very productive,” Messalonskee head coach Joe Hague said. “They’ve always been in the thick of things. We’ve got a lot of guys that can contribute.”

Waterville (6-0-1) had been every bit as impressive as Messalonskee thus far. Each of the Purple Panthers’ six victories have come by at least three goals or more and their lone tie came in a 4-4 decision against Winslow (5-2-2) on Dec. 28 at Colby College.

“We try to shoot, crash the net and try to do all the little things,” Martin said. “(We) keep moving the puck and be unselfish like they have been and good things happen for us.”

Messalonskee’s schedule to this point could be an advantage or disadvantage for Waterville depending on one’s perspective. The Eagles’ 7-1 win over Presque Isle last Saturday was their first game since Dec. 16.

“It could be an advantage for them for being rested or it could be an advantage for us being game-ready,” Martin said.

• • •

Oak Hill High School’s Anna Dodge and Monmouth’s Jessica Clavet are 10 games into their first season playing on a girls co-op team with Lewiston and each player has fit in well, according to head coach Ron Dumont.

“They’re doing great,” Dumont said. “They’ve been a welcomed addition.” Dodge, a sophomore, has slid in as a top four defender and is skating regular shifts, Dumont said. She has also gotten some extra time with the junior varsity team as a goaltender, even though her only prior experience in front of a net had come on the soccer field.

“I asked for volunteers because we only have one goaltender on the roster,” Dumont said. “She said, ‘well, I’ve done it in soccer so I’m willing to try.’ She’s just a great kid, a really good attitude and everything and she did a really good job.”

Dumont also had plenty of positive things to say about Clavet. A freshman forward, Clavet has been playing center on the team’s second line and has scored a couple goals, including the go-ahead score in a 4-1 over Brunswick earlier this season.

Lewiston/Monmouth/Oak Hill (6-3-1) returns to the ice Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee against Winslow/Erskine (2-10-0). The Black Raiders also feature a player representing one school in Erskine’s Brittany Mason, who — like Clavet — is playing center on the second line for Winslow/Erskine.

“She’s got a couple goals this year,” Winslow/Erskine head coach Chris Downing said. “She works hard. All the girls work extremely hard.”

• • •

The Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale boys co-op (5-3-0 Class A North) has bounced back in fine fashion after a tight 3-2 loss to Gardiner on Dec. 26. In their next two games the Rams rolled Poland/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill 13-0 and picked up a 2-1 win over previously undefeated Windham/Westbrook.

“They’re a pretty good team, first off, and they’ve got some guys that can really skate well,” Rams head coach Chad Foye said of the Eagles. “It was a big challenge for us.”

The game provided a test for the Rams not only in competition level but in the way it played out as well. The Eagles (5-1-0) jumped on top in the first minute of the game on a goal by Zack Callahan and held their lead until Bret Sproul tied it up midway through the third. Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale got the game-winner in the final three minutes on a power-play score from Cole Lockhart off an assist from Connor Perry.

“It was a back-and-forth game,” Foye said. “The second and third periods we kind of controlled the pace, controlled the puck and had it in their end a little bit more but we weren’t getting shots for our work.”

The back-to-back wins for the Rams have also come without one of their top scorers, Riley Boivin. His absence forced to Foye to shuffle his lines a little bit but the Rams’ coach did say he expects the senior forward to be available for Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. game against Maranacook/Winthrop at Camden National Bank Ice Vault.

• • •

After a tough start to the season Lawrence/Skowhegan has played better as of late. The Bandits (1-4-0 Class A North) picked up their first win of the season Saturday with a 7-1 decision over Poland/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill, which came on the heels of a 4-2 loss to Edward Little.

“We’re coming together. We’re playing more as a team,” Bandits head coach Ted Fabian said. “Everybody is buying into the system now and we’re moving forward.”

Lawrence/Skowhegan had its struggles in the offensive zone to start the season, scoring just a pair of goals in its first three games. Fabian said there has been an increased focus on getting gritty goals as of late, as well as improving play in the defensive zone to help at the other end of the ice.

“We’re really focused on crashing the net, getting the rebounds and the dirty goals. We tell them they’re not all going to be pretty but you’ve got to do the little things,” Fabian said. “They’re doing all the little things now that they need to do to get better and it’s starting to show.

“…It all starts in the (defensive) zone and we’re tightening it up there first. That’s helping us create offensive opportunities.”

The Bandits are hoping to continue their strong play Wednesday at 5 p.m. when they face Class B North contender Winslow.

“Obviously they’re a good team and it’s worth a lot of points,” Fabian said. “It’d be nice to get a win there, but we’re also focusing on what we’re doing and trying to get better every game and focusing on the big picture.”


Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley

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