SACO — Alyssa Hulst walked into the MHG Ice Centre and frowned when she recognized a reporter. She appeared to be looking for a way to escape.

This was worse than having two defenders converge on her; Hulst could handle that.

No, Hulst’s dilemma was coming face to face with the media.

Alyssa Hulst can skate and shoot with the best high school girls’ hockey players in the state.

But talk about herself? Not so much.

Hulst, a junior, is one of the reasons Scarborough High is a favorite to win the state championship this year. She’s among the returning players who led the Red Storm to last season’s state title game – a 1-0 loss to Greely.

Scarborough, for all its might, has had trouble scoring at times. That’s when the team often turns to Hulst, who had 27 goals and 10 assists last year.

“It’s nice to have someone to have that drive to put it in the net,” Scarborough Coach Caitlin Cashman said. “She’s a strong skater. She has a real nice shot. She knows how to create opportunities.

“She knows where the puck should be. She knows where to move the puck. She knows how to look for open ice. She’s always had that in her.”

Good instincts. Sounds like the kid of a hockey player.

“Yeah, something like that,” Cashman said with a laugh.

Alyssa Hulst is the daughter of Kent Hulst, the former captain of the Portland Pirates, a former coach at North Yarmouth Academy and now a coaching coordinator for the Portland Junior Pirates.

But Dad bristled at the thought that Alyssa was getting attention because of her recognizable father.

Alyssa Hulst is earning her own recognition.

“This is her gig,” he said. “She loves it.”

And Alyssa is quick to point out that Dad “doesn’t make me do this. I enjoy it.”

Alyssa was a toddler when Kent Hulst played.

“I remember being in the stands (at the Cumberland County Civic Center) but I don’t remember much of what was going on,” she said.

Alyssa began skating when she was 2 – “with my dad” – and was playing Mites hockey against boys when she was 5.

And her father has been watching it all.

After a game when the two get together, is Kent Hulst the dad or is he the coach?

“Both,” Alyssa said with a smile.

Hulst laughed when he heard her answer. “It’s tough,” he said. “There is a side of Dad and a side of the coach. I try to give her some positive feedback.”

Normally, Alyssa is already assessing her game.

“She’s a bit of a perfectionist,” Cashman said. “Sometimes she needs to take it easy on herself. That comes as you get older.”

Alyssa Hulst is getting older. She is becoming a leader on this team that has expectations for a stellar season.

SCARBOROUGH’S CHIEF competition for state supremacy appears to be coming from the Lewiston-Auburn area. Both Lewiston and Leavitt/Edward Little return much from their 14-4 teams last year. Lewiston features goalie Paige Fontaine and the Red Hornets return high-scoring forward Taylor Landry.

ST. DOMINIC, which won the state title in 2011, won’t sponsor a varsity team this year. The new athletic director, Gene Keene, said the Saints initially didn’t have enough players for a team, but have since signed up 13 players to field a junior varsity squad.

Keene hopes St. Dom’s will be back in varsity competition next year.

SCARBOROUGH GOALIE Devan Kane often heard that she needed to leave high school hockey to have a chance to play in college.

But Kane didn’t want to say goodbye to her Red Storm teammates, so she stayed.

Kane, a senior, is going to play after high school, having committed to a scholarship to Sacred Heart University in Fairfeld, Conn.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:kthomas@pressherald.comTwitter:

@KevinThomasPPH