The Messalonskee hockey team had reason to be optimistic when it entered the season with a roster loaded with key returners and a few impact transfers.

A game in, and it’s so far, so good for the Eagles.

Five different players scored in a season-opening 6-3 victory over Class B North contender Camden Hills on Wednesday in Rockport.

“The guys are working really hard at practice, we have a lot of competition going on day-in, day-out at practice,” said Messalonskee second-year coach Dennis Martin. “We’ve got guys working really hard, we’re getting better every day. With the experience that we have from last year, guys played, though it wasn’t much of a season. Basically, 18 of our 20 guys are back (from last year).”

Garrett Card led the Eagles with two goals, while Brady Doucette, Bryce Crowell, Owen Kirk and Andrew Beckwith also scored.

Martin said Messalonskee has three strong lines entering the season, a luxury for most high school hockey teams in Maine, particularly in Class B North.

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“We had goals from all three of our lines (Wednesday night),” said Martin, whose team has been aided with the transfers of Brandon Bearce and Cody Pawson. “We have three solid lines that we’ll be able to play, and not really have to match up with other teams. (Each line) doesn’t drop off that far from each other.”

While the Eagles feature a veteran-heavy squad, Martin said there’s still work to be done as the season moves along.

“With COVID last year, we didn’t really have a lot of practices and a lot of consistency doing stuff,” Martin said. “Right now, (Thursday’s) practice was No. 12 already. I think we had 17 (practices) all of last year. They’re getting used to the systems that we’re doing. As a group, it is a lot easier, they’re adapting to things a lot quicker. We don’t have to start with square one with everything. It makes a big difference. We can add to it, instead of just starting backwards and working your way through.”

 

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The Black Tigers — a girls hockey co-op comprised of players from Winslow, Gardiner, Cony, Lawrence, Messalonskee and Brewer — are trying to regain the momentum they enjoyed at the start of the season.

The group opened the season with three consecutive victories, but have since dropped three straight, including losses to Class A teams Lewiston and Cheverus. The latest setback came Thursday in a 5-3 decision to Yarmouth/Freeport.

“I like the 3-0 start that we were off to in those first three games,” head coach Bill Boardman said. “Then we had Lewiston and Cheverus back-to-back, and those are two of the tough teams in the state. I don’t think we competed as well as we should have. We were up 2-0 against Lewiston, so we were kind of excited about that, but certainly Lewiston is a very strong program, strong team. They came back on us and I think we were just a little flat once we got behind and did not compete for the full game. We did not compete in the third period, and we need to overcome those kind of things. I think that carried on to the Cheverus game, where we came out a little flat against a solid team that has two solid lines that can skate and move the puck.”

Winslow/Gardiner/Messalonskee/Brewer/Cony High Schools girls hockey player Jordin Williams checks Cheverus’ Oliva Bradford away from goaltender Emma Michaud during a game Monday in Hallowell. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

There’s been plenty of bright spots for the Black Tigers, notably the play of junior goaltender Emma Michaud. Boardman has also been impressed with the play of his defensemen, including Kylie Boardman, Jordin Williams, Evelyn Rousseau and Hannah Daigneault.

“Our (defense) and our goaltending has been strong, I’m very happy with that,” Bill Boardman said. “In the first three games, we were able to get the puck up the ice and get it to the offensive zone to score some goals. I think our strength so far, which I expected, was our defensive play. Certainly looking to continue that.”

 

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While most central Maine boys hockey teams have played at least one game, Cony/Monmouth/Erskine/Mt. Blue/Richmond begins its season Saturday against Capital Region — comprised of players from Maranacook, Winthrop, Spruce Mountain, Hall-Dale and Lawrence — at 8 p.m. at the Ice Vault.

Cony finished 5-4 last season, with head coach Shawn Johnson returning for his fifth season at the helm.

Capital Region will be looking for its first win after losing a 9-0 decision to Hampden Academy on Dec. 11.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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