For a moment, it looked as if Sam Bell’s hockey career would come to an unfitting end.

A senior at Messalonskee High where he was a member of two Class B championship-winning boys hockey teams, Bell was preparing for a Class B North semifinal game on Feb. 27 against Camden Hills when he suffered an asthma attack. Bell was forced to leave Sukee Arena before the start of the game and go to the hospital. There, he was diagnosed with pneumomediastinum, a condition that arose as a result of the asthma attack where air leaks from the lungs into the middle of the chest.

The Eagles went on to win the game, 3-1, but lost in the Class B North championship, 7-2, to top-seeded Waterville. Bell could not play in the game against the Purple Panthers either, and it appeared his hockey career could be over with him stuck watching on the sidelines.

“It was definitely disappointing,” Bell said by phone recently.

Fortunately for Bell, he recovered in time to partake in the Maine Winter Classic, a senior all-star game, on March 12 and got an unexpected surprise afterwards. Bell played well that day, well enough to attract the attention of Andrew Trimble, head coach of the New England Wolves junior hockey team based out of Laconia, New Hampshire.

“Basically it came out of nowhere,” Bell said. “I’m glad I was able to play in that game because that’s how he even noticed me in the first place. That was pretty lucky.”


From there Trimble and Bell kept in touch via email. Bell then took a trip to Laconia to check out the program, was offered a contract and ultimately committed to play for the Wolves’ elite team next season.

“Even in an all-star game like that, Sam was rugged, he was determined and he competed for every puck,” Trimble said. “…On the team I’m trying to build for next year, we’re looking to have players like that and Sam really fit the mold.”

Bell said he is excited for the opportunity to continue playing hockey and to potentially do so in college as well, but for now he is going to enjoy the time he has left in high school.

“I’m going to play some baseball, then turn my focus to hockey come September,” said Bell, who is also an outfielder on the Messalonskee baseball team. “I’m going to really try to enjoy the baseball season.”

• • •

Lauren Chadwick has been a standout softball player the past two seasons at Gardiner Area High School but this spring the junior elected for a change.


“I’m doing lacrosse just for something different, to change it up,” Chadwick said before a recent practice.

Chadwick said she last played lacrosse in middle school before playing softball her freshman year at Gardiner. She added the pace of the game was the biggest allure as it was more akin to her other two sports, soccer and basketball.

“I’m actually having a lot of fun with it already and we haven’t even began the season yet,” she said. “Our team chemistry on this team is really good and we hope that it will stay the same.”

Tigers coach Chad Kirk said he does not anticipate there being too much of a learning curve for Chadwick.

“Lacrosse is definitely an athletic sport — especially in girls it’s run and gun — so she’ll fit right in,” Kirk said. “She’s got good instincts, she can read plays and she likes to attack.”

The Tigers open the season at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Lewiston.


• • •

After 15 years away from the position, Jon Christopher is settling back in as the athletic director at Skowhegan Area High School, albeit under unfortunate circumstances.

Christopher, who served as the school’s AD from 1996 to 2001, took over full time in December after the school’s previous athletic director, Don Finley, passed away.

“He was an institution in Skowhegan,” Christopher said. “He had been here for so long and everyone misses him.”

Christopher said he left the position originally to spend more time with his family. Now that his children are older — his son is a freshman in high school and daughter is in sixth grade — he has a little more time, but not too much. He is still teaching three math classes at the high school in addition to his role as AD.

“To say that my life is crazy is probably an understatement,” Christopher said.


He added that the staff and coaches at the high school have made the transition much smoother, though.

“The spring season has been a pretty smooth startup so far,” Christopher said. “I have a lot of really good coaches who work really hard. A lot of them have been doing it for a long time. They probably support me as much as I support them. It’s a team effort.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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