Mike Latendresse has a busy winter ahead of him.
The Messalonskee High School hockey coach and former University of Maine star is also assisting Blaise MacDonald with the Colby College men’s hockey team this season.
Latendresse, who is in his 12th season at Messalonskee, was able to arrange the schedule so that Messalonskee’s practices don’t conflict with Colby’s practices, although he will miss four or five practices with Colby.
“I like it a lot. It’s been a great time,” said the 42-year-old Latendresse, who played on Maine’s 1992-93 NCAA championship team. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m having a lot of fun with Blaise. We get along well.
“The only problem is he reminds me that he was a [Boston University] Terrier at one point,” quipped Latendresse. “We talk about Walsh and Parker sometimes.”
Latendresse was referring to former Maine coach, the late Shawn Walsh, and retired BU coach Jack Parker, who were archrivals.
MacDonald was an assistant coach at BU under Parker, when Latendresse played for Walsh at Maine.
“We find ourselves talking all the time about Shawn Walsh, [former Maine assistant and recruiting coordinator] Grant Standbrook and [current Maine coach and former Maine assistant] Red Gendron and how things were done at Maine,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald has been impressed with Latendresse.
“He has a fabulous hockey mind, and he understands the pragmatic nature of teaching and building a program,” said former UMass Lowell head coach MacDonald. “ He has a very good attention to detail. He has been a huge help. The guys really respect him.
“He’s just a hockey junkie,” chuckled MacDonald.
Latendresse usually attends Colby’s practices in the afternoon at Alfond Arena on the Colby campus in Waterville before heading over to Sukee Arena in Winslow to run a night practice with his Eagles. It’s approximately a 10-minute drive.
MacDonald and Latendresse said they have similar hockey philosophies.
“It is challenging,” said Latendresse. “There is definitely a big gap between the two [levels]. It has been interesting to go back and forth between the two levels.”
Latendresse said he sometimes has to remind himself he’s coaching a high school team so he doesn’t put the same expectations on his Eagles that he puts on the Colby players.
“It’s such a better game at the college level. We have a pretty good team at the high school level, but the skills are definitely not the same as they are at Colby,” said Latendresse.
Latendresse, who co-owns Joseph’s Sporting Goods store in Waterville with David Winkin, son of legendary former Colby College, University of Maine and Husson University baseball coach John Winkin, said he has picked up a lot of knowledge from working with MacDonald.
And he has implemented some of the skill development drills at Messalonskee.
“But there are some things you can’t bring back to your high school team [because they wouldn’t be able to execute the drills efficiently],” said Latendresse, who has guided his Eagles to back-to-back Eastern Maine Class B championships and a 36-7 record the past two seasons.
He said MacDonald has given him a lot of responsibility, which he enjoys.
“I’ve had a chance to touch on a lot of aspects of the game,” said Latendresse, who works primarily with the forwards.
Messalonskee of Oakland opened its season with an impressive 3-2 road win over EM Class A finalist Bangor.
Latendresse said that getting a taste of coaching at the college level could pave the way for a future coaching job at that level.