WATERVILLE — The ups and downs of the high school hockey season hit both Old Town/Orono and Messalonskee on Saturday night, with the Black Bears hitting a high note while the Eagles were looking to get back to work.

Old Town/Orono scored five goals in the first period and rode the fast start to an 8-0 thumping of an undermanned Messalonskee in a Class B North game at Alfond Rink. Seven different players scored goals for the Black Bears (9-4-1), the defending regional champions who were still trying to shake off the effects of a 5-3 loss to Waterville/Winslow last weekend.

“I think we came out and had good energy and maintained that energy the whole game,” Old Town/Orono senior Sam Henderson said. “That’s what we’ve been focusing on — playing full, complete games. That’s what we did.”

Messalonskee (7-5-1) lost its third straight game, including a 7-2 loss to Presque Isle on Friday evening. The Eagles went to backup netminder Gio Caccamo between the pipes, and the sophomore made 44 saves in all — including stopping all 14 pucks thrown his way in the second period.

The Eagles were without their entire second line of Bryce Crowell, Will Durkee and Evan Hurtubise, all of whom opted to play with their Maine Moose travel team on Saturday.

“Decisions are decisions, and that’s just how it is,” said Messalonskee coach Kevin Castner. “I thought our kids played well in the second and third period. We just waited a little bit too long, we dug ourselves deep in the first. But you can’t take anything away from that team. They move the puck well, they have a lot of depth and they have a lot of speed.”

Old Town/Orono got to Caccamo early, building a 4-0 lead by the 10:59 mark of the first period. The Black Bears scored on four of their first eight shots of the night.

Zach Needham scored twice, while Tyler McCannell and Colby Pawson also found the back of the net. Nate Young made it 5-0 with 3:31 left in the first.

It was just the start Old Town/Orono was looking for. After beating Greely on Jan. 20 in a rematch of the 2019 Class B state championship game, the Black Bears lost to Waterville/Winslow the next time out before holding off Houlton/Hodgdon.

“This is a hard building to play in,” McCannell said. “That week we were really focused on Greely, we’d wanted revenge on them. We’d kind of been building off that, and this was the first game we came out and showed how we play.”

“With the teams that aren’t necessarily as high in the standings, you can sometimes naturally think it’s going to be an easier game,” Henderson said. “But it’s important to get up for these games, too, because if you don’t we’ve seen what happens. We can lose to anyone.”

The Black Bears scored two goals in the first five minutes of the third and tacked on a late power play goal from Peyton Vose to finish off the scoring.

As impressive as the goal-scoring onslaught was, the Old Town/Orono defensive effort served as an easy to overlook component. Class B North goal-scoring leader Dylan Cunningham (21 goals) was kept off the board, and the Eagles produced only three Grade A scoring chances in the game. Sophomore goalie Aiden Rand needed only to make nine saves for his first shutout of the season.

“They’ve still got some lethal guys on their first line,” Old Town/Orono coach Chris Thurlow said. “I’m happy with the way we played. We haven’t come out like that since the Greely game. The season’s been a little bit off-balance for us. We can play with anyone, or anybody can beat us. It’s weird.”

“All in all, the kids could have folded in after the first and they didn’t,” Castner said. “I give the team credit for that. They kept moving, moving, moving. We got some kids in that don’t usually get in, and they played hard, too. I can’t complain about the effort.”

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