There was plenty to like about Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth’s Class A North win over Gray-New Gloucester/Poland/Oak Hill/Leavitt on Saturday night at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault.

The Rams responded to adversity, controlled their own zone and got the first two goals of the season from senior defenseman Thomas Arps in the win. Cony head coach Chad Foye hopes it can lead the 8-4-0 Rams into a roll in the final third of the regular season, especially after leapfrogging the Kings into the fourth spot in the current Heal point standings with their second straight victory.

Cony posted a come-from-behind win over Messalonskee earlier in the week and has won three straight heading into Wednesday night’s contest at Edward Little.

“I think two in a row like that, where we had to come back and it got a little emotional, can be good for us,” Foye said. “Hopefully we can (get on a roll), because we see how well we play when we have some emotion.”

Foye, though, has begun to identify areas where his team can be better.

“We’ve still got a ways to go as far as controlling the puck,” Foye said. “We’re not moving with the puck and passing; we’re stopping and passing. When you do that, your passing lanes disappear when you stop. We’ve got to work more on our movement and things like that…. You always want to look to get better.”

The goals from Arps on Saturday, including the lone goal of the first period and a big one early in the third period to provide some breathing room in what had been a one-goal game, were certainly positives.

The tall defenseman has a big shot but only has three goals in his career, including the two over the weekend.

“I’ve been shooting a lot of pucks (in practice), but I just haven’t been able to hit the net. I’ve been hitting a lot of glass,” Arps said. “I’ve been trying to shoot a lot lower, taking a little off. It’s working out.”

“He’s got a really good shot, but he’s had problems hitting the net,” Foye said. “His problem’s been just hitting the net. I’m really happy for Thomas getting those two.”

Like Foye, Arps thinks the back-to-back wins could serve as a launching pad. Of their six remaining games, the Rams face the four teams directly below them in the standings — including three that wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs if the tournament started Tuesday — and Class B rival Gardiner.

“I think we had a couple of tough losses, and now I think we’re turning a corner,” Arps said. “We’re playing better and hopefully we’ll start getting more wins.”

• • •

In Class B, defending state champion Waterville certainly doesn’t have to look to build any momentum. The Purple Panthers are 12-0-0 and sit atop Class B North with the most productive offense in the state. Waterville boasts four players with 25 points or more already this season, and seniors Justin Wentworth (30 goals) and Jackson Aldrich (47 points) are on the verge of joining defenseman Andrew Roderigue as 100-point scorers for their careers.

“There’s a lot of chemistry from the past three years we’ve been together, and it’s only continued growing,” the senior captain Roderigue said. “We work hard in practice every day and I think that’s what makes us better.”

Word of warning for other teams in the state: Roderigue says the Panthers are improving, even after outscoring the opposition 107-14 through the first 12 games of the season.

“We’re not on the top of our game,” said Roderigue (11-25-36 totals). “There’s always more to reach. Yeah, we have a lot of good chemistry now, but that can always get better during practice. Better shooting — there’s always stuff to work on.”

Roderigue remains hesitant to talk about statistics, either his own or the team’s. He’s only got one thing on his mind.

“My only goal is to win states,” Roderigue said. “You really shouldn’t focus on records and stuff. That stuff will just come. I’ve just tried to focus on being a team player, passing the puck and working as a team — I think that’s our best bet for going back to back.”

• • •

Class B South-leading Gardiner has become strong at killing penalties. Unfortunately, the Tigers have had plenty of practice at it.

They were assessed 41 minutes in penalties, including two majors and two game misconducts, in a 3-0 blanking of Brewer on Saturday. Gardiner (7-3-0 heading into Monday night) scored twice in a 65-second span in the third period while shorthanded in the win.

Tigers head coach Sam Moore has tried to get the team to cut down on the number of penalties. But more than that, he’s trying to keep the squad focused on the task at hand.

“It just comes down to you’ve just got to try and keep the kids focused,” Moore said. “Let (the coach) worry about the referees and penalties, and let them keep thinking about the game. That’s my biggest preach to them: ‘You only worry about the things you can control. The only thing you can control is yourself.'”

Perhaps Moore’s best penalty killer, to no one’s surprise, is senior netminder Michael Poirier. Poirier made eight stops during one of the five-minute majors Gardiner killed off in a crucial second period against the Witches.

“He’s been great,” Moore said. “Michael’s so good, and he’s a smart hockey player, too. If we need a break, he freezes it and we get changed up. It’s just great to have him back there.”

• • •

The Winslow/Gardiner girls are having its best season in program history, even prior to this season’s co-operative effort.

The Black Tigers are 10-7-0, locked into the fourth spot in the North region with just one game remaining this weekend at No. 6 Yarmouth/Freeport. They’re on pace to play a first-round game against Brunswick, a team they’ve beaten twice by a goal, including once in overtime.

• • •

Notes: Jan. 27 marked the one-year anniversary since Waterville’s last loss — a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Lewiston — 20 games ago. The Panthers close their regular season at Lewiston on Feb. 21. … Messalonskee is 0-5-1 since beating Maranacook/Winthrop on Jan. 4 after starting the season 4-2-0. The Eagles hold the seventh and final playoff spot in B North. … After losing its first six contests of the season, Winslow has won two of its last five. Two of the three losses in the stretch have been by a single goal, including an OT loss to Houlton/Hodgdon. … Lawrence/Skowhegan beat Marshwood/Traip 6-5 on Saturday night for its first win of the season.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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