BRUNSWICK — The early birds skated onto the ice just past 4:30 a.m., 20 minutes before practice.

Noah Austin would soon join in. He was still in the locker room with other sleepy-eyed teammates. The routine is the same for Austin. The alarm dings at 3:30 in his Lisbon home. Along the way to Watson Arena on the Bowdoin College campus, he picks up one or two teammates.

This is Austin’s fourth year of predawn practices with his high school boys’ hockey team, a composite of Mt. Ararat, Lisbon, Morse and Hyde. It’s a team that practices in obscurity.

But Austin’s numbers cannot be ignored. He enters the season with 100 career points. His team hasn’t contended but Austin was named to last year’s Telegram All-State team.

“We knew he was gifted coming out of middle school,” said Coach A.J. Kavanaugh.

In a 3-3 tie Saturday in its opener, Austin scored one goal and assisted on the other two – while recovering from a knee injury that cut short his soccer season.

For all his scoring prowess, Austin speaks continually about the team – students from four schools trying to mesh.

“It’s a little different when you first come in, not really knowing everybody,” he said, “But after a while everyone gets along.”

Austin knows his team isn’t as highly regarded as the big programs of Class A North – Lewiston, St. Dominic and Edward Little. He knows many of those teams’ top players – joining them on the Gladiators travel-league team in Auburn.

“Some of my best friends are on Lewiston, EL and St. Dom’s,” he said.

Does he wish he could play for one of them?

“I like being on this team,” Austin said. “We may not be as talented as those other teams but every kid on this team works extremely hard. I know they push me to be a better player.”

A better all-around player.

“My freshman year, I played with a lot of (veteran) players. I was more of a kid who got a spot on the first line and put the puck in the net,” Austin said. “My skills have developed and I’ve (also) grown a lot with my leadership skills.”

Kavanaugh concurs.

“He’s become such a complete player on both ends of the ice,” Kavanaugh said. “As a center he’s always down low helping the defense … he’s just a dynamic scorer who has evolved.

“Last year he really stepped up as a leader on the team.”

In his early seasons, Austin looked up to the upperclassmen, including his older brother, Ryley. Now he has the role, leading on and off the ice. This Mt. Ararat team, like a lot of the smaller programs, must generate revenue. One of the Eagles’ biggest fundraisers is their Christmas tree sale – in Lisbon Falls and Topsham. Kavanaugh said no one signs up for more shifts selling trees than Austin.

“His older brother set a good precedent and now (Noah) sets the bar high,” Kavanaugh said.

This Mt. Ararat team will be constant underdogs in Class A North. “We’ve got Lewiston, Edward Little, St. Dom’s and Bangor,” Kavanaugh said, “and it’s usually just a fight for the other (playoff) spots.”

Mt. Ararat has Austin to lead, along with his friend (and co-captain) Cade Charron in goal. With Hyde joining the program this year, Austin welcomed a new, productive lineman in Ian Struck.

“We’re playing well together,” Austin said. “With this team, I think we’ll make the playoffs.”

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