The Cross Insurance Arena in Portland will host the Classes A and B boys hockey state championship games March 12. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald

This winter’s boys hockey state championship games officially have a home.

Mike Burnham, the executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, confirmed in an email to the Sun Journal this week that the Class A and Class B state games will be held at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, March 12. The arena will also host the Class A semifinals Tuesday, March 8, according to the MPA ice hockey bulletin.

The games have moved to Portland from Lewiston because the MPA and The Colisee’s management couldn’t come to a financial agreement for hosting various boys and girls playoff games at the 63-year-old arena this season. The boys hockey state championship games have been at The Colisee in Lewiston since 1994.

The Colisee said in late December that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement regarding ticket revenue. The Colisee said it wanted 20-30% of a $10 ticket sold by the MPA.

The Maine Nordiques, the arena’s primary tenant, have a home game against the New Jersey Titans scheduled for March 12. The Nordiques and The Colisee are owned by Darryl Antonacci, who purchased The Colisee from Firland Management in March 2020.

Maine Nordiques general manager Eric Soltys told the Sun Journal last month that there would be no further comment from The Colisee regarding the high school hockey state championships.

Burnham said earlier this week that he couldn’t offer further comment because the MPA is still finalizing some details. The site for the Class B North boys regional final on March 9 is still listed as TBD (to be determined) in the MPA bulletin. Alfond Arena in Orono normally hosts the game.

Other playoff games that have been affected by the MPA and The Colisee not coming to an agreement include the Class B South boys regional final, which will be moving to Troubh Ice Arena in Portland, according to the MPA bulletin, on March 9. The Class A boys quarterfinals and Class B South boys regional semifinals will now be at the home arena of the higher seeds on either March 4 or 5.

The Class B North boys regional semifinals, which have been at Colby College in years past, will be hosted by the higher seeds either March 4 or 5.

The girls state championship, which has been in Lewiston since the MPA sanctioned the sport for the 2008-09 season, is also moving to Troubh Ice Arena and will be played on Feb. 19.

SKATING KEY TO EDDIES’ SUCCESS

Head coach Norm Gagne said the Edward Little boys team was sluggish in its 2-1 win over Cheverus/Yarmouth last Thursday.

“You can’t skate for them. That’s the big part of it: you have to move your feet,” Gagne said last Friday. “You have to be able to go (skate). You look at your team, and it looks like they are skating in mud. There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to inspire your kids to work harder.

Lewiston’s Tanner Anctil, right, tries to knock Edward Little’s Tate Morse off the play, but Morse got control of the centering pass and stuffed it past Lewiston goalie Ben Cloutier during the first period of Monday’s game at The Colisee in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Our kids really gutted it out. When I say they had to gut it out, they had to work hard to defeat (Cheverus/Yarmouth) because they were playing at home, and they were coming at us with all guns blazing.”

Part of the struggle for the Red Eddies might have been that they arrived at Troubh Arena a little after 3 p.m. for a 4 p.m. game.

The Red Eddies (8-0) had their skating legs in a 5-0 win against Lewiston on Monday.

“Last game, it wasn’t our best ever, but today we got it done,” Edward Little’s Tate Morse said after the Lewiston game. “I liked the pace of the game. Both teams did a hell of a job getting to the (corners and battling for pucks). That got us the (win).”

The Red Eddies’ speed allowed them to create some offense.

“We made some plays tonight,” Gagne said after Monday’s game. “I think it was that first goal; (Andrew) Clements, a freshman, he put it on (Tate Morse’s) tape, and I was glad to see Tate come back … he was out for two games, and the Cheverus/Yarmouth game, he struggled, but he came back tonight. He had a great, great game tonight. I was pleased with him. This (game) was a team effort tonight. We had to bounce back from the other night.”

Gagne said the next thing on Edward Little’s checklist is developing more depth on the power play.

Right now, the Red Eddies have only one power-play unit, in part because they have been missing players throughout the season due to illness or injuries.

“We have only had one power-play group because of it,” Gagne said Friday. “If (the guys that play on the power play) are coming off the ice and the other team has a penalty, I don’t have another power play to put out there. That has been one of my biggest problems. To solve that, I am waiting for a break in the action of games, and I think we have one coming up. I am going to try to put two groups together.”

The Red Eddies’ next game is Saturday against Bangor. After that, they aren’t scheduled to play until Jan. 26 against Greely.

ICE CATS DIALED IN

One of the surprises in boys hockey has been the Lake Region/Fryeburg Academy/Oxford Hills Ice Cats.

Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills’ Matt Aker looks to pass the puck as St. Dominic’s Tanner Berry-Hart leans forward in an attempt to block it during Saturday’s game in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

They are 6-1 this season and currently sixth in the Class A Heal points standings. Of those six wins, three have come from traditional powers Scarborough, Biddeford/Old Orchard/Massabesic and St. Dominic Academy.

Coach Wayne Neiman said the Ice Cats are focusing on one game at a time, and aren’t looking a head or backward.

“No matter what other teams’ records are, we are taking it game by game as the season goes on,” Neiman said after the 3-2 win over St. Dom’s on Saturday. “We are treating every game as a one-and-done situation because we want to make some noise in the playoffs when it gets there.”

Every team will make the playoffs this winter because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Ice Cats’ Caleb Micklon and Owen Galligan are tied for first in scoring in Class A with 15 points apiece. Galligan has 10 goals and five assists, while Micklon has seven goals and eight assists.

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