They gathered again at the Family Ice Center, as they have every November, as one of the powerhouses in their sport.

The Greely High girls’ hockey team is back on the ice. The Rangers feature a healthy roster of 17, which includes two skaters from Gray-New Gloucester.

Greely is one of 16 teams in Maine that began practice this week. The girls’ hockey season begins Nov. 23, two weeks ahead of the boys’ season. The two-week head start allows girls’ teams to take advantage of available ice times.

Greely has five more players than what it finished with last year. But that Greely dozen was special, winning the Rangers’ third state championship (the others coming in 2012 and 2013). In the 10 years girls’ hockey has been sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association, two schools have won three titles – Greely and St. Dominic Academy (2011, 2016-17). Lewiston, one of the favorites this year, has won two (2009, 2015).

Greely, which beat Lewiston in double overtime in last year’s North title game, will not be considered a favorite this time around.

“We obviously have some work to do,” said Rangers Coach Nate Guerin, who has a 128-23-3 record in eight seasons at Greely. “We have a lot less experience and we lost of ton of offense.”

At the end of last year, Greely featured a dynamite senior line of Courtney Sullivan (Maine Sunday Telegram MVP), Bridget Roberts (another All-State selection) and Molly Horton. They accounted for 11 of the team’s 14 goals in the playoffs, including Sullivan’s hat trick in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over Cheverus in the title game.

Of the 12 girls celebrating last year’s state title, only four return. Guerin thought he might have five, but goalie Jordyn Owens is not back.

Sometimes, high school teams lose players to prep schools or junior hockey teams. Owens moved to Wyoming to compete in rodeo.

“Losing our seniors and our goalie is a challenge,” Guerin said. “We do return our three defensemen, so that’s our bright spot at the moment.

Senior Jayme Morrison, junior Leah Walker (who scored the winner against Lewiston in the playoffs) and sophomore Camilla Lattanzi are all back anchoring the defense. Greely has two first-time goalies in juniors Meghan Abel and Zahria McLean.

“We did lose a lot of players, but we have a lot of new players and they’re looking awesome,” Morrison said. “People don’t know what to expect from us. The plan here is always to win.”

On offense, the Rangers have one returning forward, sophomore Madison Pelletier, one of the Gray-New Gloucester skaters.

One addition may be a boost. Linnea Koivisto, a senior foreign exchange student from Finland, is a strong skater.

Greely competes again in the North, where Lewiston is favored to repeat as the top seed. St. Dom’s, the No. 2 seed last year, will be strong again.

In the South, Cheverus/Kennebunk and Portland/Deering look like favorites again. They finished 1-2 in the region last year. Scarborough may return to being contenders.

As for the Rangers, Guerin has a way of making them competitive.

“We have talent to make the playoffs,” he said. “We will win our fair share of games. We’ll certainly lose a handful.

“The focus is on the long haul of the season … If we can play our best hockey in February, we’ll be in good shape.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-7411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @KevinThomasPPH

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