To Deering Coach Jack Lowry, the Maine High School Hockey Invitational gives his players a chance to see how they stack up against opponents from other parts of the country.

To Mark Andreozzi, who coaches the Clippers from Cumberland, R.I., the tournament gives his players a chance to get to know each other better.

To Cheverus Coach Dan Lucas, it provides some of his players with a chance to get more ice time than usual.

To South Portland Coach Joe Robinson, the 38-team tournament provides some good exposure for his players.

The Maine High School Hockey Invitational, which ends today with games at the MHG Arena in Saco and at Portland Ice Arena, means different things to different people.

“What I get out of it the most is the joy the kids get from competing against teams from other states and see how they measure up,” said Lowry, who previously coached at Biddeford and Cheverus.

The tournament, which has grown from six teams during the past 10 years, includes 18 teams from outside Maine.

“I’ve run into some of my kids who played in the tournament five or six years ago, and they still talk about playing in this tournament because it was a different experience for them,” Lowry said. “There are different styles of hockey, different pockets of hockey in the Northeast, and the kids get to experience that.”

“It’s good to see teams from all over the Eastern part of the country,” South Portland forward Josh Cobb said, “It’s great competition. I think it helps you to play teams you don’t normally play. It helps you get rid of bad habits.”

Andreozzi, who formerly served as the athletic trainer for the old Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in the American Hockey League, has been bringing his teams to the tournament for eight years.

“For us, we get to get away from home,” he said. “We come up here and stay in a hotel. The kids bond. They get to room with each other. Eat together. Spend all day together.”

No champion is crowned, but the level of competition remains keen.

“Playing those out-of-state teams is kind of fun because you never know what to expect,” Falmouth assistant coach Eric Graham said. “You just go out and play hockey and focus on your own team.”

Since the games don’t count for Maine’s high school teams, the tournament gives their coaches the opportunity to see all of their players perform under game conditions.

“It’s a great chance for the guys who don’t get the opportunity to play to step up and prove themselves at this level,” Graham said.

“Some of the younger guys or guys who haven’t found a role with the team really get a chance to show us what they have to offer to this team.”

“Obviously, you want to win hockey games, but some kids don’t get to play as much during the regular season,” said Lucas, who played two full seasons for the Maine Mariners, the former AHL team, before settling in Maine 30 years ago. “They’re out there practicing five days a week like everybody else, and we want to give them an opportunity.”

“You can only do so much in practice,” Graham said. “Game situation is totally different. To be able to show it in a game situation, where you’re playing for your teammates, is of great value to everybody.”

The tournament also provides the players with some potentially valuable exposure.

“I know there are scouts here from different places,” Robinson said.

“It’s good for (the players) to get out there and maybe showcase their talents, show some people who don’t normally see them what they can do.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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