Some of Maine’s best high school hockey players from last season might have graduated, but don’t expect a whole lot of reshuffling to take place atop Class A North this season.

Lewiston, which has won each of the last two Class A state championships, and Bangor are expected to emerge once again, forcing the rest of the league to play catch-up throughout the winter.

“I think they’re probably the top two teams, and St. Dom’s will probably be there,” Cony head coach Chad Foye acknowledged.

Foye’s Rams should stack up right about where they did last season, when they finished third in A North and hosted a regional quarterfinal.

Cony, which is in a co-op with Hall-Dale and Monmouth, is more well-rounded compared to last season, Foye said, and should find goals coming from more than a single line. The Rams will have a solid top trio in Avery Pomerleau between Reed Hopkins and Cole Lockhart. At 6-foot-4, Lockhart is easily the biggest right wing in the league.

“I feel a little better,” Foye said. “We’ve got to have scoring from two lines. We can’t rely on one line or just a couple of players. It’s got to be a team-wide thing.”

Cony has veteran defensemen, too, who are ahead of senior netminder Dalton Bowie.

Bowie posted the league’s best goals against average — 1.83 — in a league that featured Bangor’s Derek Fournier, a 2016 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draftee.

“(Bowie) excelled as last year went on,” Foye said. “He’s going to be one of the top goalies in the state, I believe. He looks really comfortable in the net right now, and his expectation and our expectation is the same.”

With St. Dom’s joining Cony, Edward Little, Gray-New Gloucester and Mt. Ararat in the battle for quarterfinal-round tournament spots, another local team is hoping to finally find its way back into that mix.

Maine Central Institute joined the Lawrence/Skowhegan co-op, which is a significant boost for a program trying to increase numbers. There is also the added benefit of an intangible element with MCI.

The three schools involved boast winning football programs, and the ones who play football and hockey — Skowhegan’s Sean Savage and MCI’s Seth Bussell among them — bring an attitude of success. That’s meaningful for a team that went 1-17-0 last season.

“It breeds the belief that no matter what goes against them, they continue believing that they can compete,” Bulldogs coach Dakota Gendreau said. “Winning and that confidence, that’s something we’re starting to see.”

As a freshman last season, Cody Dixon led the team in assists and his production should increase with a year of varsity experience. Sam Craig, a senior, may not have put up many points a year ago, but Gendreau expects that to change.

“He was one of the more unheralded players we had,” Gendreau said. “He’s someone whose goals and assists didn’t match up with the impact he made on our team.”

• • •

The Winslow/Gardiner girls hosted a playoff game in their first year as a co-op, and they should be in a similar spot this year.

The North division in girls hockey is top-heavy, with St. Dom’s the clear-cut favorite after a perfect 21-0-0 season that culminated with a state title. Behind the Saints, it’s a virtual free-for-all and the Black Tigers expect to be in the mix under new coach Alan Veilleux, who was a former assistant with the team.

“Our expectation is the same as last year,” Veilleux said.

Senior Evelyn Hinkley emerged as a top-flight center last season, and her ability with the puck on her stick makes her a threat. Younger sister Julia Hinkley grew into one of the Black Tigers’ top defensemen as a rookie last winter.

Cassie Demers, a senior, is back in goal after learning the position on the fly in 2016-17. Her play will be important for Winslow/Gardiner.

“She looks much, much better,” Veilleux said. “She’s been getting goalie coaching and that’s helping, too.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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