WATERVILLE — For a program struggling with numbers and with only one win as the season nears its midway point, there has been a bright spot between the pipes for the Messalonskee hockey team.

Junior Eli Michaud, the only active goaltender on the Eagles’ roster, has been a steadying influence for Messalonskee — building off a season last winter in which he emerged as a go-to No. 1 netminder.

“Eli has been just phenomenal this season,” Messalonskee coach Kevin Castner said. “He’s really kept us in a lot of games, closer than we probably should have been.”

In the Eagles’ lone win of the season, last Wednesday night against Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI, Michaud made 28 saves. His play gave Messalonskee a chance to pull out the 1-0 overtime victory, including a save on Bandit Cody Dixon’s breakaway midway through the third period that kept the game scoreless at the time.

Michaud is embracing the role as the team’s go-to backstop.

“I got to keep on making saves,” said Michaud, whose team is eighth in Class B North, with the top six earning playoff berths. “I’ve just got to clear my mind after a hit post or after a bad rebound. I’ve got to keep on going on to get the next one.”

Castner lauded Michaud’s on-ice performances and his mental approach this season.

“He’s definitely an attribute you can’t overlook,” Castner said. “He’s really a great goalie and he’s really progressed well this season.”

• • •

Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI goalie Hunter Raye is also impressing. The junior made 37 saves in the loss to Messalonskee, but that was only a sign of things to come.

In a 7-0 loss to Old Town/Orono on Saturday, Raye made 75 saves.

“Hunter’s been making key saves for us. It’s all about finding ways to make things easier on him,” Bandits head coach Dakota Gendreau said. “(Messalonskee) was one of our better offensive games, in terms of generating scoring opportunities. But we still have to try and fix a few things, because for as great as Hunter’s been through (the early part of the season), we’ve got to make it a little easier on him so that he’s not having to bail us out of all these chances.”

Gendreau didn’t expect an overtime loss in a matchup of two previously winless teams to have lingering effects on Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI.

“They don’t have the time to,” Gendreau added. “I’m not expecting it to hurt them too much. They’ve dealt with adversity. We can’t look back on losses, we have to look at the games coming up ahead of us.”

The Bandits will play Marshwood/Traip/Sanford (2-3-0) on Saturday before a rematch with Messalonskee on Monday.

• • •

Tom Tibbetts is making an impact since being inserted into the Kennebec RiverHawks lineup. The junior winger, who missed the first half of the season, was in fine form Saturday night as he spearheaded the RiverHawks’ 4-3 overtime win over Hampden Academy. At the time, the Broncos stood as the top seed in Class B North.

Tibbetts scored the first goal of the game for Kennebec — on the power play in the final minute of the second period — as the RiverHawks twice rallied back from two-goal deficits. Tibbetts finished with a goal and three assists, having a hand in all four goals for his team.

“He’s stepping up,” Kennebec coach Jon Hart said. “He can play.”

Tibbetts was ineligible to play during the first part of the season. He’s picked up like he hasn’t missed a beat, joining Cody Pellerin and Cooper Hart on the team’s top line. Beyond the offensive production, it’s allowed Hart to utilize Logan Denis strictly as a defenseman to help solidify that group on the back end.

“We’re coming together as a team,” Tibbetts said.

• • •

It looks like Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth has turned a corner. A three-game losing streak followed a season-opening win over rival Gardiner, but the Rams have turned things around of late.

Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth has won three straight games, avenging a 6-5 overtime loss to Poland/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill/Leavitt with a 4-1 win on the road Saturday night. The Rams allowed 15 goals in their slide, but just two during their win streak. The Rams went from being well outside the Class A North playoff structure to sixth (the final postseason spot) over the last two weeks. They have a crucial road game against No. 7 Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse on Wednesday before hosting Cape Elizabeth on Saturday.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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