Some might be surprised to see Messalonskee at 6-0, but Coach Mike Latendresse isn’t one of them.
The Eagles’ early victims include Class A heavyweights Falmouth and Bangor.
Still not surprised, Coach?
“You beat Falmouth 7-2, that’s a surprise. Falmouth’s a very, very good team, But we’re also a good team,” Latendresse said.
“I think maybe there was a lack of respect and we just jumped on them. I’m sure Falmouth is better than what they showed in that game. But at the same time we played really well. Bangor may be the top team in East A. Those were quality wins. But surprising wins? No, Because you expect to win every game.”
So far, so good for Messalonskee, which has been getting strong play from the usual suspects, led by senior forward Chase Cunningham.
He had five goals in last Thursday’s 7-2 win over Waterville. He also had a hat trick in the Falmouth win, a feat matched by younger brother Jared in a victory over Lawrence/Skowhegan.
Latendresse said the rapid growth of his freshmen has been eye-opening, players like forward Brandon Nale, who scored the winner in the 3-2 victory over Bangor.
“That’s allowed us to be much deeper than we’ve been in the past few years. That makes a big difference in big games,” Latendresse said.
“We’ve played our best games against the biggest competition, which is good and bad. It means that you might be taking teams lightly.”
Latendresse said it’s too early in the season to get overly excited about the perfect start. He’d like to see better special-teams play and fewer mental mistakes.
“We’re playing good hockey but there’s still a lot of hockey to be played,” Latendresse said. “There’s a lot of areas of our game we can improve on.”
BONNY EAGLE is another team looking to make some strides, but the weather isn’t helping.
The Scots are 1-5 under new coach Eric Wales, and finding time to get together has been a challenge.
“Between a minimal amount of ice time and snowouts, practice has really hurt us. The kids are working hard and I know we’ve got some competitive games coming up,” Wales said.
His hope for his young team is that it can regroup enough to get close to .500 by season’s end, nabbing one of the final two playoff spots.
“We’re pretty young and inexperienced in some key areas. We’ve been taking our lumps,” Wales said. “We just need the weather to cooperate; we need more time on the ice.”
Bonny Eagle’s two best players from a year ago — Josh Bagley and Shayne Plummer — moved on to play junior hockey this winter.
The void they left has been impossible to fill.
One bright spot for the Scots is junior goaltender Matt Bridges, Wales said. Now the rest of the team needs to help him out.
“It’s really about a lot of people that haven’t played together coming together and trying to learn some new systems,” Wales said.
POSTPONED GAMES and canceled practice sessions are plaguing all teams. Monday’s rain and ice wiped out a highly anticipated game in Western Class A between Scarborough and Cheverus.
A makeup date has yet to be set, and Scarborough Coach Norm Gagne is worried about too many games being force-fed into the end of the season. The Red Storm (6-1-1) already have a rescheduled game at St. Dominic on Jan. 25, one that was delayed a month by a December ice storm.
“Thursday and Friday we had no practice, then we played on Saturday and we didn’t play well (in a 2-2 tie against Biddeford),” Gagne said.
“We weren’t sharp at all. With not practicing it’s been really hard for us. We go over our systems and do film work before games and then we keep our fingers crossed. We haven’t been able to keep up with the routine. I like routine and the players do, too. We just seemed to be out of whack.”
What kind of instructions does he give his players when they can’t practice?
“I tell them if you’ve got a treadmill or anything like that, you’ve got to try to stay in shape,” Gagne said. “It’s hard to keep your conditioning. But I’m sure it’s the same for everybody.”
SCARBOROUGH CONTINUES to emerge as the dominant girls’ hockey team this season, although the Red Storm (10-0) face one of their biggest tests this week.
Scarborough visits Leavitt/Edward Little (8-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday at the new Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. The Red Hornets began the year 1-2, with a pair of one-goal losses to Greely and Scarborough.
They have won seven straight since, handing Yarmouth/Freeport (8-1) its first defeat with a 4-0 decision Dec. 28.
Kevin Thomas contributed to this report.
Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or [email protected]Twitter: MarkEmmertPPH