FALMOUTH – The Falmouth boys’ hockey team intends to pick up where it left off last March.

Last season ended for the Yachtsmen with their first appearance in the Western Class A championship game, with Thornton Academy recovering from an early 2-0 deficit to post an 8-4 win on the way to its second consecutive state championship.

Falmouth, which opened the season Saturday night with a 5-3 win against St. Dom’s at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, appears poised to take it a step further this winter.

“We’re ahead of schedule here as compared to last year,” Falmouth Coach Deron Barton said. “Systems are in place, and we’re adjusting those systems to complement our strengths. We don’t have to introduce a lot of new things. We’re going with what we had last year, and we’re going to make some minor adjustments with personnel in certain positions.”

Falmouth’s top three scorers from a year ago either graduated or transferred to prep school, but there are enough experienced forwards to fill out three balanced lines, plus four highly experienced defensemen and a veteran goalie in junior Dane Pauls.

“We have a lot of mature hockey players,” Barton said. “They understand the fundamentals, and we a have good base to start from.”

Several of the Yachtsmen know what it’s like to win a state championship.

“Probably 50 percent of the team has already won state championships in soccer or lacrosse,” Barton said, “so they understand what needs to happen off the ice as much as on the ice and in the locker room … These kids really want a hockey championship. They want to win it. It’s never happened before, and they know that, too.”

“Playoffs in any sport, just the pressure and anxiety of it, can help you play in tournament games, those first few minutes getting the nerves out,” said Jack Pike, a defenseman who helped the soccer team capture its second consecutive Class B state championship last month. “You’ve been there before in those high-stakes games, and you kind of know how to handle it. It can help. You know how to win and you bring it to other sports.”

The Yachtsmen also learned something from their appearance in last season’s regional final.

“After the loss last year in the regional final to Thornton Academy, a lot of kids on the team realized we don’t want to take anyone lightly,” said Kris Samaris, the team’s leading returning scorer from a year ago. “We want to go out every game and play our best. Our coach definitely preaches that, every practice, every game, every workout we have.”

The Yachtsmen do have a lot of experience in the back end, but it is their balance up front that could ultimately lead to success.

“It will be difficult in another two or three weeks, I think, to really tell the difference between our first and third lines,” Barton said. “That’s a high-class problem for a coach to have.”

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

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