January 6

HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY NOTEBOOK: Messalonskee has cushion

Eagles off to strong 6-0-0 start

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Messalonskee is off to a strong 6-0-0 start and holds a comfortable cushion at the top of Eastern B.

KENNEBEC JOURNAL / MORNING SENTINEL TOP 10

1. Scarborough

2. Lewiston

3. Messalonskee

4. Bangor

5. Falmouth

6. Thornton

7. St. Dominic

8. Cheverus

9. Gorham

10. Biddeford

WEEKLY HONOR ROLL

• Messalonskee forward Chase Cunningham scored five goals in a 7-2 win over Waterville.

• Messalonskee forward Jared Cunningham had a goal and three assists in a 7-2 win over Waterville.

• Cony/Monmouth forward Austin Davis had a goal and two assists in a 4-0 win over Mt. Ararat/Lisbon.

• Cony goalie Tommy Small had 18 saves in a 4-0 win over Mt. Ararat/Lisbon.

• Winslow goalie Andrew Beals had 10 saves in a 6-0 win over Houlton/Hodgdon.

• Waterville forward Chris Lee had a hat trick in a 6-1 win over Houlton/Hodgdon.

The two-time defending regional champs have out-scored their opponents 46-12 and already have wins over Class A contenders Bangor and Falmouth.

“We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “We still have a lot to improve upon but I like where we’re at.”

Senior forward Chase Cunningham is off to flying start as well. He scored five goals in a 7-2 win over Waterville last Saturday to give him 77 is his career. He has 189 career points and is just three shy of tying Nate Ponitz for the all-time scoring leader in program history.

Cunningham is skating with younger brother Jared Cunningham and senior Dan Condon.

The trio are working well together, but Latendresse will have some decisions to make later this month when injured forward Josh Towle could return from a broken arm.

Towle skated with the Cunningham brothers last season.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Latendresse said. “J.T. (Towle) is basically four weeks out from the injury. If everything goes right he will be out of the cast soon. Our goal right now is for him to come back Jan. 29.”

Messalonskee hosts Brewer (4-1-1) that night.

Towle, who scored more than 40 points last season, is working out with the team. Latendresse said Towle will ramp up the rehab this week.

“This week we’re going to have him do some special skill drills just to see where he’s at,” he said. “We need to get him back in hockey shape but we also need to be very careful that we don’t rush him. We’re going to need him in the second half.”

• • •

It’s been a few seasons since the Winslow boys have been a playoff contender, but they’ve entered the conversation after a strong 3-2-0 start under new coach Andy Dube.

The Black Raiders, who play Messalonskee on Thursday at Sukee Arena, have won consecutive games to pull into sixth place in Eastern B Heal points. The top six make the playoffs.

“I’m seeing a lot of improvement,” Dube said. “We’re just getting better and better. Our team goal is to make the playoffs and we’re working hard to make that happen. It’s what we’re gunning for.”

The Raiders, who won eight games the last two seasons, received a boost with the return of sophomore Jacob Grenier.

Grenier is skating with Alex Berard and Jacob Boudreau. Jacob Larsen, Jimmy Fowler and Jacob Trask skate on another top line.

“We’ve mixed it up and things aren’t exactly set in stone now,” Dube said. “We wanted to create some balance and not overload one line. We have a lot of players who can skate and I think we have created some strong lines.”

• • •

Waterville received a bit of a wakeup call with a 7-2 loss to Messalonskee on Saturday.

It marked the first setback of the season for the Purple Panthers (4-1-1).

“We made some mistakes and you can’t do that against quality teams,” Waterville coach Dennis Martins said. “When you lose one-on-one battles like we did, you are going to lose the game. We’ll build from it, though, and move on.”

Martin and the Panthers hoped to get back on the ice Monday, but inclement weather wiped out practice.

“We wanted to jump right back into it,” Martin added. “When you lose a game like that, you want to get back on the ice as quick as possible.”

Waterville will play at Brewer (4-1-0) on Wednesday in another key Eastern B game.

“It’s a big one,” Martin said. “It will solidify who is in second place.”

• • •

The recent stretch of inclement weather has wreaked havoc with a few teams, including Lawrence/Skowhegan.

The Bandits (1-3-0) have played just four games, including just two since Dec. 18.

“It’s been tough,” Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Ted Fabian said. “We’re still trying to find our identity. Some pieces are starting to fall into place but it’s been tough with these cancellations. We’re just trying to keep the guys in shape as best as we can.

The Bandits will host Cony/Monmouth (5-2-0) on Wednesday at Sukee Arena.

Around the state: Messalonskee and Camden Hills (5-0-1) are the lone unbeaten teams in the state. The two will play Feb. 5. ... Western A frontrunner Scarborough (6-1-1) has already played three overtime games, going 1-1-1. Defending Class B state champ Greely is 1-3-1, although its losses have come to Lewiston, Falmouth and Kennebunk.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640bstewart@centralmaine.comTwitter: @billstewartkj

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