HALLOWELL — While the thought of ice doesn’t appeal to motorists, the Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth boys hockey team was more than happy to slide across a sheet of the slick stuff Monday afternoon.

The Rams held their first practice session of the season at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault with a new focus on the upcoming season. After years of playing at the state’s highest level in Class A, Cony dropped to Class B for 2019-20.

“I’ve been going full bore already with my son’s hockey, but it’s fun to get back to the Cony group,” Cony coach Shawn Johnson said. “We lost some great kids last year, but we’ve got some great kids coming in this year, too. (This week) is just about getting the legs back into it, letting everyone get to know each other and setting the tone for the next four years for the new guys.”

Not every sports team in central Maine was so lucky Monday.

An evening spate of freezing rain forced a number of schools to cancel part or all of their extracurricular events, including Messalonskee, Lawrence and Hall-Dale.

“It’s like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out it’s not really Christmas,” Hall-Dale girls basketball coach Jarod Richmond said of his team’s opening practice being canceled.


The sting was especially sharp for Richmond.

As the defensive coordinator for the Winthrop/Monmouth football team which lost in the Class D South championship game Friday night, he was looking forward to turning the page to the hardcourt.

“We had equipment turn-in (Monday) afternoon, and that day always sucks,” Richmond said. “I kept thinking, ‘Well at least I have something to look forward to tonight.’ And then that got canceled. I don’t feel any better about Friday night (because basketball is starting), but it also didn’t diminish my excitement for basketball at all.”

At Messalonskee, the boys basketball team was able to salvage an hour of practice time. That allowed new head coach Jay Dangler to get his varsity group out for the first of three tryout days this week, but Dangler had to scrap planned junior varsity and freshman tryouts. Those will now extend into Thursday.

“I still like to get all three days (of tryouts) in,” said Dangler, who spent the last six seasons as Messalonskee’s JV coach under Pete McLaughlin. McLaughlin accepted the school’s assistant principal’s position this summer.

“Being in this program, knowing the guys, it’s a little bit more relaxed for me, versus if I was going somewhere outside to coach at like an MCI or a Hall-Dale, or a place like that where I don’t know anybody,” Dangler said.


Hockey teams in central Maine were especially eager to begin the season’s practices. Not only has Cony dropped from Class A, but Gardiner and Capital Region (the Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain/Madison/Lawrence co-op) moved from Class B South into Class B North — lumping those three teams in with mainstays Waterville/Winslow and Messalonskee.

It won’t change how Johnson’s squad practices this week, but he did say that there is more unknown this offseason. With powerhouses like Lewiston, St. Dominic and Edward Little off the Rams schedule, they’re looking at teams like Old Town/Orono, Presque Isle and Hampden Academy.

“Our guys haven’t ever faced any of these teams,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of unknowns. They knew Lewiston. They knew what to expect from Bangor and EL. Now, most of these teams we’ve never played before.”

Both the known and the unknown had Dangler anxious Sunday night into Monday morning, he admitted.

“The last three or four days, I started having those basketball dreams,” Dangler said.

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