Messalonskee celebrates a goal against Hampden in the third period of the Class B North championship game on March 9 at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Many central Maine hockey teams enjoyed standout seasons this winter.

The Messalonskee boys hockey team came painstakingly close to winning a state title, falling 4-3 to Cape Elizabeth in the Class B final on March 11 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

The Eagles finished 18-3-1.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” Messalonskee head coach Dennis Martin said. “Reaching the state championship game is obviously a goal for them, and we were only a couple goals shy. We played a heck of a game with Cape right until the end, there was just no quit. The way they battled all season, just their great work ethic and team unity, just the commitment they all put in (was amazing).”

The loss did nothing to take away from an otherwise dominant year, particularly on offense. Three forwards — Owen Kirk, Will Durkee and Bryce Crowell — combined for 123 points. Kirk (21 goals, 22 assists) led the group with 43 points, followed by Crowell (21 goals, 20 assists) with 41 and Durkee (18 goals, 21 assists) with 39. The Eagles had 12 players finish with at least 10 points. Messalonskee averaged more than five goals per game.

If the offensive output wasn’t enough, the Eagles also had solid goaltending, with Hunter Hallee racking up a 16-2-1 record over the season, with a 1.75 goals against average.


But more than the stats, Martin was most impressed by the Eagles’ grit.

“We knew we were going to be pretty good, but (the key) was their battle and their hard work,” Martin said. “That was what we needed to do, was get the grit out there (on the ice). We had 12 kids with 10 or more points. So our depth was big, and they were buying in. They changed the culture on being hard nosed. We brought it every game, that was the difference.”

This winter marked the first season of the new Gardiner/Winslow/Waterville boys co-op. The team went 6-13-0, but won four of its final seven games to reach the Class B North quarterfinals.

“We developed over time, we were trying to find our own identity,” head coach K.C. Johnson said. “A team identity instead of a solo identity. The Waterville/Winslow kids had three games the season before, so we’re building off of that. We developed some swagger. If we could put games together as a whole, we were probably a force to be reckoned with. We just couldn’t get a full game in. But at times, we looked great. And towards the end (of the season), it was fabulous.”

Gardiner/Winslow/Waterville did battle through the season, playing close games with Messalonskee and pulling out a late-season win at Camden Hills on Feb. 15. Garrett Doyle (18 goals, five assists) led the team with 23 points, while Camdyn Lasselle (5 goals, 10 assists) and Donnie Gurney (11 goals, 4 assists) each had 15 points.

Winslow/Gardiner/Cony/Messalonskee/Lawrence/Erskine/Maranacook/Mt. Blue freshman forward Katie Berard, center, is hugged by teammates after she scored first period goal during a Class A North quarterfinal game this season at The Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Cony boys — which included players from Hall-Dale, Monmouth, Winthrop and Erskine — struggled with a young roster and finished 2-15-1. The Rams showed some promise for the future, as junior Ray Dineen (nine goals, five assists) and freshman Cooper Clark (nine goals, five assists) each tallied 14 points. Junior goalie Landon Foster showed excellent poise under a barrage of shots throughout the season, including a 70-save effort in a 4-1 loss to Messalonskee on Jan. 10.


In girls hockey, the Black Tigers — comprised of players from Winslow, Gardiner, Cony, Messalonskee, Erskine Academy, Lawrence, Maranacook and Mt. Blue — had a standout season. The team finished 14-6 and reached the semifinals, before falling to 6-3 to Penobscot on Feb. 10 in Brewer.

“I was absolutely thrilled with how our season went,” Black Tigers head coach Bill Boardman said. “To get to the regional semifinals and actually compete in the game, it was tremendous. Very, very thrilled, it was a great season.”

Katie Berard led the Black Tigers with 40 goals and 12 assists. Kylie Boardman (4 goals, 17 assists) had 21 points.

“I’m so proud (of the season),” said Kylie Boardman, a senior. “We’ve gone through three different coaches (over the years), we went through COVID our freshman and sophomore years. But we stuck together through it all. We made history this year in so many different ways. Just the growth of girls hockey, in general, is amazing to see. Growing up, it was not like that, you didn’t see that. It’s just amazing to see all the girls come together — from eight different schools, which is crazy — but we put it all together, anyways and just make it work. Our group of girls was very passionate about the sport and the way we wanted to win.”

The Black Tigers had strong defense as well, thanks to the play of goaltender Emma Michaud, who finished with a 13-6 record with a 2.38 goals against average.

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