BANGOR, Maine — When Houlton-Hodgdon hockey coach Joel Trickey learned that second leading scorer Parker Sanderson was going to transfer to Bangor High, he predicted that Sanderson would be an “impact player” for the Rams even though he was making the jump from Class B to Class A.
“He’ll be one of their better players. He’ll fit right in,” said Trickey at the time.
Trickey was right.
In fact, Sanderson is the leading scorer for the Rams, who are sitting atop the Eastern Maine Class A Heal points standings with a 7-1 record.
Junior center Sanderson has eight goals and six assists. He already has scored one more goal than he did all of last year for Houlton-Hodgdon, where he racked up seven goals and 23 assists to help lead the Black Hawks to a 16-4 season and a berth in the EM championship game.
“We love having him on our team,” said junior center Zach Papsadora. “He’s a big attribute. If the puck is in the corner, he goes 120 percent to get it, not just 100 percent.”
“He has brought a lot of speed and a knack for finding the back of net,” said senior goalie Chris Howat. “He’s a point-producer and a playmaker. He has added a lot.”
Sanderson, who was a teammate of Howat’s on the Bangor High golf team in the fall, said the transition has been a smooth one.
“It’s been good. I like the team a lot. It’s a really good team. It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever played on and we’re like a big family,” said Sanderson, who had known several of the players previously through hockey.
He played summer hockey for the Bangor team.
“Everybody was very welcoming, so I fit right in,” said the 17-year-old Sanderson.
He downplayed his point total.
“I’m mostly concerned about winning games, not points,” said Sanderson. “Points are just a benefit. My linemates have helped me out.”
He is flanked by senior Connor Griffin and junior Carl Farnham. Griffin has 5 & 3 and Farnham has 2 & 3.
That line led Bangor to impressive road wins over Biddeford (3-1) and Falmouth (6-3).
Sanderson had five goals and an assist in the two victories, while Farnham and Griffin had a goal and two assists apiece.
“I’ve been pretty happy lately. The puck has been bouncing my way and I’ve just been tapping them home,” said Sanderson.
“We’re clicking big-time right now,” said Griffin.
Sanderson wasn’t sure how productive he would be this season.
“It’s hard to say. You never know what type of game you’re going to have,” said Sanderson. “You just have to work hard and be determined to get some points.”
“He has been unbelievable,” said Griffin. “He sees the ice real well and takes a lot of shots, which benefits me and Carl. We can tell when he’s going to shoot it and where he’s going to put it, so we make sure we crash the net to get some dirty goals.”
Farnham said there aren’t many people who think someone can come from Class B to Class A and have the kind of impact Sanderson has had.
“But he’s done the job. He has been great. He knows how to put the puck in the net and that’s a great quality to have,” said Farnham.
Sanderson said the move from Houlton to Bangor was primarily because his parents, Chuck and Debbie, wanted to be closer to his sister Vanessa and to watch her play basketball at Husson University in Bangor.
Vanessa Sanderson is a sophomore guard for the Eagles.
“They said if we moved, it would be like the full package: I’d get to go to a good school down here and play hockey for Bangor, [in] Class A. It’s a lot bigger, better and faster,” said Sanderson, who acknowledged that he was in favor of the move.
He said Class A teams have a lot more depth talentwise and the speed of the game is noticeably faster.
“In Class B, [most teams] have one good line and an OK line. In Class A, everybody has two good lines. We have three solid lines that can produce,” said Sanderson, who added that he enjoys attending Bangor High School.
Sanderson said the higher tempo in Class A has forced him to make quicker decisions with the puck.
“You don’t have to think as much. It’s more of a reaction type of thing,” said Sanderson. “In Houlton, you had a lot of time to think about what you were going to do [next].”
He said playing hockey every day has “helped out a lot,” and he is pleased that the team has done so well.
“We’re playing real well right now,” said Sanderson. “Hopefully, we’ll keep getting better. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us with games against teams like Thornton Academy [Saco], Lewiston and St. Dom’s [Auburn].”
Sanderson isn’t the first athlete to transfer from Houlton to Bangor and make a significant impact.
Danny Dahl and Mark Socoby both starred for Bangor High School basketball teams.