Brunswick celebrates after winning the Class B boys’ hockey championship game last March to earn the program’s first state title. The Dragons return several key players from that championship team. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick High boys’ ice hockey team knows it’s in a good position to make a run at a second straight Class B state championship. The Dragons also know how hard it will be to accomplish that goal.

“We need to remember nothing is given. We haven’t won anything this year. We can’t forget the grind we went through last year to get to the finals. We need to do that again,” said Luke Patterson, Brunswick’s senior goalie after Friday morning’s practice at Bowdoin College’s Watson Arena.

The Dragons closed the 2021-22 season with a 12-game win streak, and capped it with a 2-0 victory over Camden Hills in the Class B state final to earn the first state championship in program history. With Patterson, who made 31 saves for the shutout in the state championship game, back in net, and the top three scorers also returning from last season, Brunswick is poised to once again be among the top teams in a strong Class B South.

“We want to focus on what’s happening this year, in every practice and every game,” said senior co-captain Nick Marro.

Brunswick’s Nick Marro, right, moves in to pressure Camden Hills’ Cam Brown as he takes a shot in the Class B state championship game last March. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Brunswick opened the season Saturday night with a 6-1 win over the Poland/Gray-New Gloucester/Leavitt co-op team. The Dragons host Camden Hills at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Watson Arena in a rematch of the state championship game. Cape Elizabeth, Cheverus/Yarmouth, Greely and Poland/Leavitt/Grey-New Gloucester/Oak Hill are among the Class B South teams that will push the Dragons for the regional title.

“Class B South, no matter how you cut it, its always tough,” said Coach Mike Misner.

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For the Dragons, it starts with Patterson in net. As a junior last season, Patterson posted a .908 save percentage and 2.19 goals-against average.

“He’s not cocky, but he’s got confidence. He’s one of the hardest workers. It’s kind of annoying. You can’t score on him in practice,” senior forward and co-captain Brady LaForge said of Patterson.

Luke Patterson returns in goal this season after helping to lead Brunswick to the Class B state title in 2021-22. As a junior last season, Patterson posted a .908 save percentage and 2.19 goals-against average. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Patterson said he’s working to be stronger in keeping the area around the posts covered. Misner said Patterson could soon join Marro, AJ Wolverton and LaForge as a captain.

“In practice, in the preseason games we’ve played, (Patterson’s) always on. He’s ready. No matter what the situation. If it’s a two-on-none drill we’re skating out here, he’s ready. You don’t question his work ethic and his ability, because he brings it pretty much every day,” Misner said.

The top line of AJ Wolverton (nine goals, 13 assists), Zach Stern-Hayes (11 goals, 15 assists) and Marro (21 goals, eight assists) combined for 77 points last season.

“We’ve seen some chemistry with a few guys who have been playing together for a a while now,” Misner said. “We’ve got a lot to do to get some chemistry on our other lines, but seeing those guys who have been playing together has been good.”

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Where the Dragons do have questions entering the season is on the blue line. Brunswick graduated Tommy Labbe and Sam Masse, its top two defensemen last season, and Grey Perham transferred to North Yarmouth Academy. LaForge said the team has confidence in newcomers like sophomore Avery Tatham and freshman Ethan Patterson to step into key defensive roles and play well. Wolverton said a focus in preseason practices has been total team coverage in the defensive zone.

“We’re going to have to put in a lot of hard work this year, because every game is going to be a challenge. I think teams will be looking at the schedule and seeing us, and wanting to give 100%,” Misner said. “With our offensive guys putting pressure, and Luke stepping up, hopefully we’re all going to make each other better.”

With games coming up against defending North champion Camden Hills, Hampden, and Cheverus/Yarmouth, the Dragons will be tested early.

“We want to play good teams. We don’t want to play teams we can blow out. We want good, competitive games that will help us in the long run. I’m looking forward to that,” Luke Patterson said.

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