SKOWHEGAN, Maine — They practice from 5:20 to 6:30 in the morning.
In a couple of weeks, they will have better practice times, but will be on outdoor ice at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds.
“There’s always a hardship that goes along with Skowhegan hockey,” quipped second-year head coach Jeff Fowler.
But there haven’t been any hardships during games.
The Indians were 5-0 and in second place in the Eastern Maine Class A Heal points standings entering Wednesday night’s play.
They won eight games last year, including a playoff victory, after posting just one victory two years ago.
“It was a very gratifying season and the kids came back with a lot of hope and energy,” said Fowler. “So far, so good.”
Fowler said he has been “very pleased” with the team’s play and said it boils down to “emphasizing details that it takes to win hockey games.”
The Indians don’t have much size but they do try to take advantage of their speed and Fowler stresses “defensive zone coverage.”
His practices are geared to working on the fundamentals.
“Passing and receiving passes are very important,” explained Fowler who varies his drills to address their needs.
Skowhegan has allowed just nine goals in its five victories while scoring 28.
“The kids work hard and they’re coachable. And their attitudes are A-1,” added Fowler.
Lawrence coach Ted Fabian, whose Bulldogs dropped a 6-1 decision to Skowhegan last month, said he was impressed with Skowhegan.
“They came out strong and really surprised us,” said Fabian. “They have a lot of speed and their coach has done a real good job getting his kids to buy into their systems. They’re pretty disciplined.”
The fact the Indians have to get up so early in the morning in order to catch the 4:30 bus from Skowhegan High to Sukee Arena in Winslow for practice shows their resolve and passion for the game, said Fowler. There are three players on the team from Madison, also.
The Indians have two productive scoring lines and Fowler has been happy with the play of the third line.
Senior Camden DesPres centers the first line and is the team’s leading scorer with four goals and seven assists. He is flanked by senior Kyle Demchak (4 & 3) and junior Chase Nelson (3 & 4). Senior Jake Johnson (3 & 3) centers the second line between sophomore Trey Michonski (4 & 3) and freshman Kristian Carrier (1 & 2).
Junior Chase Whittemore (3 & 1) is in the middle on the third line and is flanked by Grant Benson (0 & 1) and either freshmen Sam Haver (3 & 0) or Tristan Libby (0 points). Haver and Libby can also play defense.
The defense corps is comprised of junior Anthony Paul (2 & 4) with senior Tyler Savage (0 & 1) and seniors Kameron Nelson (1 & 0) and Anne-Marie Provencal (0 points).
The goalie is junior Sam Edmondson and he has posted a 1.80 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage.
“Sam has done a great job. He has been very strong for us,” said Fowler whose Indians will travel to Bridgton Academy on Thursday to face Fryeburg/Lake Region.