Strong defense propels Messalonskee hockey team to 6-0 start

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 02, 2013, at 7:24 p.m.

Messalonskee High School won its first regional hockey championship a year ago, claiming the Eastern Maine Class B title.

And the Eagles of Oakland haven’t missed a beat this season, entering Wednesday night’s game against Brewer with a 6-0 record and leading the Heal points standings.

Coach Mike Latendresse said one of the primary reasons for his team’s success is the play of his defense corps.

“All of them have played really well,” said Latendresse. “They’ve been better than I expected. They make a lot of really good decisions. They make the right decision 90 percent of the time. They keep the game simple and keep it in front of them.”

Messalonskee has allowed only nine goals in its six games.

Senior Dom Dexter and junior Tyler Simpson logged a lot of ice time a year ago and headline the defense corps. They are a steadying influence.

Freshmen Sam Bell and Dylan Burton have also been strong.

Latendresse said Dexter, Bell and Burton are good skaters who can skate the puck out of the defensive zone while Simpson makes precise breakout passes.

First-year starter Ben Weeks, a junior, has benefited from their strong play, but has also been sharp, according to Latendresse.

“He has played well and he is building his confidence,” said Latendresse. “He has been steady. He plays the puck well.”

And the forwards have been doing their jobs on the defensive side of the puck, said Latendresse.

“We’ve been playing good team defense,” he added.

The Eagles have a high-powered scoring line in the Cunningham brothers, junior Chase and freshman Jared, along with junior J. T. Towle.

Chase Cunningham is coming off a 69-point season.

Latendresse said they also have a good second line comprised of Jacob Dexter with Corey Foye and Kalib Bernatchez.

Latendresse said he will have a better gauge of how good his team is going to be in the coming weeks.

Over the next five weeks, their list of games include two with Brewer and one apiece with defending state B champ Greely of Cumberland Center, Orono, John Bapst of Bangor, Hampden Academy and Class A Waterville.

Lawrence handling depleted roster

Lawrence went 2-15-1 a year ago.

But the Bulldogs of Fairfield have already won three games this season, going 3-4 through their first seven games entering Wednesday’s game against Old Town.

And first-year coach Ted Fabian’s team has done it with a depleted roster.

The Bulldogs are down to 12 players due to injuries and academic departures.

“I’ve been really happy so far,” said the 25-year-old Fabian. “We have a great group of kids and they’ve battled every game and every practice.

“They’re a tight-knit group, they work hard and they’re definitely well-conditioned,” said Fabian. “They have bought into the systems very well.”

All four of their losses have come at the hands of teams that entered Wednesday’s play undefeated: Class A Bangor (5-0) and Class B teams Camden Hills (4-0), Messalonskee (6-0) and Skowhegan (5-0).

“Ted is doing a great job. He has implemented some good systems and they seem to be coming together.” said Latendresse. “They haven’t been healthy but there’s no doubt they’re making progress.”

Most of the goal production has come from the top line of senior Tyler Boudreau between senior Josh Doolan and sophomore Andrew Carpenter.

The Eagles have also received some productive minutes from the second line of sophomores Trevor Lewis and Jack Flynn with either freshman Todd Gibbons or sophomores Brad Wilbur or Adam Littlefield playing on the left wing.

Sophomores Cody Martin and Tyler Tompkins have been lost for the season due to injuries.

Seniors Jordan Nutting and Luke Lawrence and freshman Brady Martin man the blue line and Littlefield also gets minutes on defense.

Junior Kyle McLain is the goalie and has “been solid all year for us” according to Fabian.

McLain is their only goalie.

Fabian said he and his Bulldogs have their sights set on “making the playoffs and making a run in the playoffs.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/02/sports/ice-hockey-sports/strong-defense-propels-messalonskee-hockey-team-to-6-0-start/ printed on July 30, 2014