Sunday, March 9, 2014
By Dale Duff
Special to the Telegram
BANGOR — Some high school hockey teams have rosters filled with rink rats, kids who play year-round.
Then there’s Bangor, a team filled with baseball players, soccer players, golfers, football players and yes, some hockey guys, who gather at Sawyer Arena to blend into a darn good team.
After losing on opening night, the Rams ripped off five straight wins and are No. 2 in Eastern Class A.
“I like multisports guys,” said Coach Quinn Paradis. “They know what it takes to play on different teams and deal with different coaches.”
Players like Justin Courtney, a 6-foot-3 skilled defenseman with three goals and five assists.
Courtney is best known for his skill on the hill – a KVAC all-conference baseball player in the spring, a Legion all-star in the summer. His pitching talent will take him to the UMaine program this fall. He’s quick to say his baseball helps his hockey.
“I think the mental aspect of baseball, being a pitcher, you have to keep your head on straight and it’s the same playing defense on the ice. You have to make decisions on when to step up and pinch the boards, or not,” said Courtney.
His hockey coach likes his pitching legs.
“His legs are very strong from all that pitching, very powerful, good for hockey,” said Paradis. “And he knows how to handle pressure situations.”
Nate Bach has been getting a lot of playing time lately on Bangor’s top line with Nick Graham and Jordan Tracy, picking up three assists in the last two games.
That’s not bad for the second- leading scorer (12 goals) on the Rams’ soccer team this fall. Bach was named to the East all- star team by the Maine Soccer Coaches Association.
“Nate is a phenomenal soccer player,” said Paradis.
Bach said playing soccer helps him with hockey.
“Soccer forces you to work the ball around a lot. It opens your mind to passing rather than trying to do it yourself,” said Bach. “It really carries over to hockey.”
And then there’s senior goalie Rye Powell (4-1, 2.00 GAA). In the fall he helped the Bangor golf team finish second in the state while he was sixth in the individual championship.
He said his play on the links helps his hockey in a different way.
“I hate standing over a putt, thinking and reading which way the ball will break. As a hockey goalie you see the puck, you stop the puck. You just have to be ready,” said Powell.
“Rye is a fun-going guy. Not a practice player but when it’s time to play the game, he’s ready,” said Paradis. “He’s having fun, got that smile on his face. Not many goalies have smiles.”
With a 12-day break in the schedule because of weather postponements, the Rams spent time this week on the basics in what Paradis called a “midseason minicamp.”
That’s the kind of things rink rats do.
ROAD WARRIORS: Bangor is the northernmost Class A school. Six of the nine road games mean at least a 107-mile bus ride – one way.
100-POINT CLUB: Presque Isle honored senior Ryan Seeley before Friday’s hockey game against John Bapst for reaching 100 career points – the ninth player in the program to record 100 points.
PARITY REIGNS: There are 72 boys’ basketball teams in Eastern Maine and most have played about half of their schedule. Sixty-six teams already have at least two losses.