ROCKPORT, Maine — The Camden Hills High School Windjammers opened a lot of eyes in the high school hockey world this season by winning their first playoff game and reaching the Western Maine Class B championship game for the first time since they started the program in 2005.
They will graduate just three seniors and will return a large cast that includes a Western Maine Class B first team all-star selection, a second-teamer and two honorable mentions.
So the swift-skating Windjammers, who wound up 15-5, are looking to continue their progression and hopefully take home some hardware next season.
Despite losing to eventual state champion Greely of Cumberland Center 7-1 in the Western final, that first-time experience was valuable in their development.
“It’s huge. We have a pretty young organization and you’ve got to start somewhere,” said junior winger Jack Orne, a first-team selection after he posted a team-high 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) during the regular season. “It was tough going into that game because we had no experience in that situation before. But now we’ll be better equipped [to play in a final]. We’ll know how to play and how high the stakes are.”
“Greely has been in that situation time and time again. We were maybe a little timid [because we hadn’t], but we’ll be ready next time. This was a big step for us,” said All-WM second-team center Grayson Szumilas (21 and 20).
The Windjammers will have their high-powered top line intact with current sophomore Simon Lydon (14 and 12) again joining juniors Orne and Szumilas.
They have played together since they were peewees (11- and 12-year-olds).
“It cuts out a lot of time you would have to spend getting to know each other,” Orne said.
“We already know what each other is doing,” said Szumilas. “We know our own roles and when you’re comfortable with your linemates, it helps out a lot.”
Szumilas and Orne like to use their quickness and stickhandling skills to work the puck down low.
“And we know Simon is going to be in front ready to jam the puck home,” said Szumilas.
Karl Enroth, who was chosen Western Maine Class B’s coach of the year, said Lydon “does a lot of little things that open things up for Jack and Grayson. He forechecks hard, forces turnovers and drives to the net. He creates space for them.”
Enroth said Orne was a defenseman but was moved up his freshman year and has been a “goal scorer all three years. He is also great on the backcheck and creates turnovers. He plays a complete game and we’ll use him on defense on the penalty kill.”
Enroth said Szumilas is “elusive and is a great stickhandler. He’s tenacious and when he gets the puck, it’s tough to take it away from him. He has a great pair of hands, finds openings and knows how to get there.”
They will lose Stephen Hand, who had 22 goals, 13 assists and headlined the second line, and defensemen Calvin Robbins (4 and 29) and Evan Neilson (0 and 7). Robbins was an All-WM first-teamer and Hand was a second-teamer.
Orne said they were key players and will leave big skates to fill, but he is confident some of the younger players will help fill the void.
Enroth added that “we’ve got a good crop of freshmen coming in and a few from that group should be able to jump in and help.”
He expects junior Parker Lawson (3 and 7) to be his primary puck-moving defenseman next season after “making great strides this season.”
Freshman Matt Prescott (0 and 6), freshman Nick Tassoni (0 and 1) and junior Nick Bennett should also be ready to make important contributions. Bennett played in just 10 games due to a shoulder injury.
Enroth will be looking for supplemental scoring from returning forwards such as sophomore James Annis (10 and 13), an All-WM honorable mention, along with freshmen Jonah Cameron (5 and 6), Chase Matteo (3 and 3), Austin Gallant, Gunnar Hill (0 and 2) and Nick Czurchra (1 and 1).
Freshman Jet Magri, an honorable mention, will return in goal after a valuable first season.
The players noted that their success has been getting noticed in the community.
“We’ve always had pretty good turnouts for our games and now, after this season, more people are starting to get interested in the sport,” said Orne.
“It’ll help get young kids involved in hockey. It’s going to be really exciting to see where it goes down the line,” said Szumilas.