Cony co-op boys hockey players celebrate after scoring a goal against Hampden Academy in a Class B North boys hockey semifinal game on March 2 at Colby College in Waterville. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

Some turnarounds take time — but Doug Dieuveuil had a feeling this one was about to happen fast.

Entering his first season as head coach of the Cony co-op hockey team, Dieuveuil could tell his group was set to improve on a two-win campaign a year ago. Between the Rams’ talent and their strong work ethic, Dieuveuil had high hopes for his team in 2023-24.

“Working with them all summer long, I just saw their enthusiasm and their willingness to work right away,” said Dieuveuil, who replaced longtime head coach Shawn Johnson. “I believed in them, and they believed in our coaching staff, and all of that showed from Day 1.”

The result was Cony’s best season in years. The Rams bounced back from a two-win season in 2022-23 to post a 14-6 mark that included a five-game winning streak to end February. They earned their first winning season and first playoff victory since 2016-17.

After a 3-3 start, Cony claimed a 3-2 victory over eventual regional champ Camden Hills that began a run of 11 wins in 14 games. That culminated with the Rams claiming an 8-2 Class B North quarterfinal win over Brewer/Lawrence/Skowhegan before falling to Hampden Academy/Nokomis in the semis.

“I think at that point in time, that (Camden Hills win) was really the turning point for us,” Dieuveuil said. “The kids always believed, but they knew then that we could be successful and really do some damage this season. It’s a tribute to them buying in and just working hard. They earned every single one of those wins.”


Cony will have two of the region’s top returning players next year in forwards Cooper Clark (17 goals, 11 assists) and Zach Waddell (15 goals, nine assists). Goaltender Landon Foster (415 saves, 2.80 goals-against average) also had a solid season for the Rams, as did fellow senior Owen Lyons (seven goals, 15 assists).

After winning the Class B North championship a year ago, Messalonskee had another strong season in 2023-24, finishing 14-5 and claiming the No. 1 seed in the region. Owen Kirk (24 goals, 19 assists), Garrett Card (17 goals, 11 assists) and Hunter Hallee (1.89 GAA) were particularly solid for the Eagles.

Unfortunately for Messalonskee, its season would end in stunning fashion in the form of a 3-1 defeat to eighth-ranked Old Town/Orono in the B North quarterfinals. The Eagles had defeated the Black Bears 7-0 in the lone regular season matchup between the two teams just two weeks earlier.

“We had a really good season, but in that playoff game, we just had one of those nights where we couldn’t finish,” said Messalonskee head coach Dennis Martin. “That’s just what happens in playoff games sometimes. When it’s single-elimination, the best team doesn’t always come out on top.”

Old Town/Orono’s Nate Baker (7) and Messalonskee’s Owen Kirk tangle over a loose puck during a Class B North boys hockey quarterfinal game on Feb. 27 at Kents Hill School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Messalonskee will be well-positioned to continue its string of success next season with Kirk back to lead the way. The Eagles also welcome back another potent forward in Tatum Doucette (four goals, nine assists) and one of the top defensemen around in Denny Martin (six goals, 14 assists).

“With the outcome of what happened this year, I’m sure our guys are going to be coming in real hungry after a tough loss,” Martin said. “We had a huge sophomore class with nine sophomores, and seven of those played a tremendous amount of time for us and will be back and ready to go.”


Local players also made an impact for the Brewer/Skowhegan/Lawrence co-op, which finished 6-10-3. The Skowhegan duo of Baylon Cram (nine goals, five assists) and Josh Hitchings (five goals, eight assists) were top contributors for the Witches, as was Lawrence’s Cam Dostie (four goals, six assists).

Elsewhere, Nokomis junior Boston Merrow notched eight goals and nine assists for a Hampden Academy/Nokomis team that went 12-7-2 and was a B North finalist. Donald Gurney (11 goals) was the top player for the Winslow/Gardiner/Waterville co-op, which finished 0-18.

Black Tigers coach Bill Boardman goes over some plays during a Nov. 17 girls hockey practice at The Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell. The Black Tigers are a nine-team co-op, featuring players from the following schools: Winslow, Gardiner, Cony, Lawrence, Messalonskee, Maranacook, Erskine Academy, Mt. Blue and Waterville. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

On the girls side, the Black Tigers (co-op of Cony, Erskine Academy, Gardiner, Lawrence, Maranacook, Messalonskee, Mt. Blue, Waterville and Winslow) finished 10-10. The team played its bets hockey at the right time, winning its last three regular season games before topping St. Dominic Academy 3-1 in the Northern Maine quarterfinals.

The Black Tigers had one of the best girls hockey players anywhere in the state this season in Katie Berard, who scored a whopping 39 goals in addition to recording 13 assists. The team also got 13 goals and nine assists from Leah Michaud, eight goals and 11 assists from Abby Allen and 10 goals from Kate Nichols.

Of all the team’s late-season victories, the postseason triumph over St. Dom’s was the sweetest. Trailing the Saints 1-0 entering the final period, the Black Tigers scored three unanswered goals to reach the regional semis (where they would lose to Yarmouth/Freeport) for the second consecutive year.

“We knew we wanted this; we wanted this since the beginning of the season,” said Allen, who scored two goals for the Black Tigers in the win. “All it was (was) coming together and (taking) it one goal at a time.”

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