WATERVILLE — It was an afternoon of firsts for the Messalonskee hockey team on Monday.

Junior Dean Simpson scored his first career goal, freshman Myles Hammond recorded his first career hat trick, and the Eagles’ first line was the best it had been all season in producing a 6-3 win over Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI in a Class A/B crossover game at Colby College’s Alfond Rink.

“It feels pretty good,” senior captain Jacob Bernatchez said. “We were moving the puck around well and connecting. We had a couple of goals right in front of the net. We’re just working really hard right now. The last three games, we’ve really started to click.”

Bernatchez had a goal and three assists for the Eagles (2-7-0), who swept the season series from the Bandits (0-7-0) in a game that — until two Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI goals in the final 1:15 of regulation — wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

The Bandits generated only four shots through the first two periods, finishing with 10 on the afternoon.

“The kids worked hard, and I think the big thing is we’re starting to get a little more confidence shooting the puck,” said Messalonskee coach Kevin Castner, whose team scored more than two goals for the first time this winter. “I think that’s what we lacked in the first half of the season, just shooting the puck and getting ourselves in position to shoot the puck.”

The game played as the polar opposite to the first meeting between the two teams just 12 days earlier, a game which featured a goaltending clinic at both ends of the ice and remained scoreless until Salvatore Caccamo finally struck in overtime to give Messalonskee a 1-0 win.

On Monday, Hammond got things started just 3:18 in.

“Everyone wanted it. We all had a little fire under our butts from last time,” Hammond said. “It’s always scary going into overtime, so we didn’t want to do that again.”

Hammond added his second goal at the one-minute mark of the second period after he was allowed to wheel through the zone and beat Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI goalie Bryson Dostie (23 saves) with a wrist shot, and the Eagles appeared well on their way to an easy victory. The Bandits answered off the stick of Cody Dixon just 1:43 later, though, and suddenly there was some jump in their game with only a 2-1 deficit.

Penalties slowed the middle portion of the period, giving an undermanned Messalonskee team much needed recovery time, and the Eagles responded with two special teams scores 1:45 apart. Simpson cashed in off an offensive zone faceoff with the teams skating four aside, and Ben Hellen added a power play goal at 7:22 for a 4-1 Messalonskee lead.

Hammond capped his hat trick at 9:11, banging one home in heavy traffic at the left side of the cage.

“It was a lot more relaxed out there, a lot more calm,” said Hammond, who also hit a pair of posts early on. “There felt like less pressure to get a goal. I used to be a playmaker and didn’t really like to shoot the puck, but there seem to be a lot more chances now which has turned me into someone who can shoot the puck and try and get some goals.”

Bernatchez assisted on two of Hammond’s three goals, as well as on Simpson’s momentum-changing tally.

“I’ve started out a little slow this year,” Bernatchez said. “I kind of see myself as more of an enforcer-type, getting in front of the net and being the guy to get the rebounds and try to get the puck to Myles or Benny.”

The Bernatchez-Hammond-Hellen line accounted for five of Messalonskee’s six goals and 11 points in total for the afternoon.

“That first line we put together based on thinking the three would match up with their skill set,” Castner said. “It’s coming together right now. A little bit more work and I think they’ll be better than what they are right now, but they keep coming to practice and working hard.”

Bernatchez’s goal midway through the third period upped the Eagles’ advantage to five goals, before Isaac Bussell and Ryan Savage connected 27 seconds apart in the final 1:15 of the game to account for the final score — and a bit of a milestone for the Bandits.

For the first time this season themselves, the Bandits scored more than two goals in a game.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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