When you have 10 seniors on a roster, it’s easy to overlook a few who are having extremely productive seasons.

For the unbeaten Waterville Senior High School hockey team, head coach Dennis Martin insists that one such player who isn’t being overlooked is senior defenseman Matt Jolicoeur.

Jolicoeur, one half of the Purple Panthers top defensive pairing, had a three-point night Monday against Old Town/Orono, the team right behind No. 1 Waterville (11-0-0) in the Class B North standings.

“Not around the league, I don’t think he’s overlooked,” Martin said. “Everyone knows who he is.”

While Jolicoeur’s partner, Andrew Roderigue, broke the school’s career scoring record for defensemen earlier this season, Jolicoeur has played alongside Roderigue for all four years of their varsity career. That familiarity on the ice, which also includes playing as a pairing on a local Midget-level team, has brought out the best in both players.

Jolicoeur has five goals and 16 assists on the season, tying him for seventh overall in the state in scoring. He scored both on the power play and while shorthanded on Monday.

“He’s Steady Eddie for us back there,” Martin said. “I don’t know how much different he is from Andrew (in terms of playing style). Matt has maybe hit a few more posts here and there this season, otherwise he’d probably be right up there in scoring. Both of them can play offense, defense, whatever you need them to do.

“Andrew maybe looks a little more flashy, but Matt just brings a lot to the table. He’s very steady at both ends of the ice.”

Jolicoeur and Roderigue (10-23-33 totals) have combined between them for nearly five points per game for the Panthers, far and away the most prolific defensive tandem in the state. Jolicoeur’s shorthanded strike against the Coyotes was the team’s 12th shorty of the season.

But on a juggernaut offensive team, one that boasts six of the nine leading scorers in Class B, the play at the back end might be most significant. Chase Wheeler and Zach Smith form the Panthers’ second defensive pairing, and Martin believes his top four defensemen are crucial to his team’s success.

“They take a lot of pressure off of us,” Martin said. “(The forwards) can get a little lackadaisical in the defensive end, but they know those guys are back there.

“Once you get possession, it’s probably a little easier to jump into the offensive flow because you know you have the puck and can go, and those guys can get involved with you, too.”

The formula works. Already this season, Waterville has beaten Yarmouth in a rematch of last season’s Class B state title game, Class B South leader Gardiner and five of the six teams currently occupying playoff spots in their region.

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The highly-anticipated game between Gardiner and Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth on Tuesday night was lost to Mother Nature, and Gardiner head coach Sam Moore said that the break couldn’t have come at a better time. The Tigers have been beset by injuries and illness over the last week.

Junior defenseman Sloane Berthiaume missed Saturday’s loss to Bangor, the second straight game he missed due to a shoulder injury.

“We really feel it when he’s not out there, too,” Moore said. “I can ask him to get two or three shifts in a row, and he doesn’t even get tired. He’s just got that type of energy and hustle.”

Berthiaume was medically cleared to play against Bangor, but Moore opted to err on the side of caution in an effort to keep the injury from turning into a long-term nagging one. Also out over the weekend was Alic Shorey, who was sick. Cam Bigelow is nursing a shoulder problem of his own, while Jake Folsom has been bitten by the flu bug making the rounds.

For the Tigers, having everyone going is a key element to their success.

“We need to be physical, but we need to be smart about it,” said Moore, who has a team that can create fits for opponents when its size gets going on the forecheck. And with a tough non-league schedule for the Tigers, depth and balance are necessities on the ice.

When the Tigers can stay out of the penalty box, they can skate with any team in B South — as evidenced by wins in the first half of the season over Kennebunk, York, Yarmouth and Greely, the four teams sitting second through fifth in the standings.

The Gardiner-Cony game, which was also postponed by snow in December, is slated for Thursday, Feb. 9.

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Waterville senior Justin Wentworth scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season on Monday against Old Town/Orono. … Sophomore Joe Clark of Gardiner has seven goals and 16 points to lead the Tigers in scoring. … Messalonskee (4-5-1) occupies the sixth of seven Class B North playoff spots with eight games remaining. … Cony has gone 2-2-0 in its last four games and is holding onto the fifth of six playoff spots in Class A North. … With wins in four of their last five games, the Winslow/Gardiner girls have moved up to fourth in the latest Heal point standings in the girls hockey North region.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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