The Bangor High School hockey team has to re-establish its goal production this year due to heavy graduation losses.
But Quinn Paradis, in his seventh full season as the head coach, believes an experienced defense corps and promising sophomore goalie Jake Hirsch will keep the Rams competitive while the offense sorts itself out.
“Our defense is strong, and Jake will keep us in a lot of games,” Paradis said. “He has looked great in our four or five [exhibition] games so far. We just have to find a way to score goals.
Bangor went 15-5 last season and reached the Class A North semifinals, where it was beaten 3-0 by eventual state champ Saint Dominic Academy of Auburn.
“We’re going to be in a lot of 2-1 games. We’re going to go back to playing a lunch-pail style of hockey. Come to work every day, do your job and we’ll be successful,” Paradis said.
Headlining the list of key departures were two-time all-state first-team center Nick Boudreau, who scored 23 goals with 13 assists last season, and 14-goal scorer Josh Sherwood, who registered 12 assists.
Also gone are Hunter Neale (6 goals, 4 assists) and Reid Higgs (3 & 3 in 10 games), along with point-producing first-team all-state defenseman Zach Cowperthwaite (5 & 8).
Bangor will instead rely on senior winger David Brown (11 & 4) and sophomore winger Cooper Ireland (8 & 4) to be two of the key point-producers for a team that features good overall speed.
Another winger coming off an impressive freshman year is Daniel McCarthy (4 & 5), who is one of the state’s top distance runners after a fifth-place finish in the Class A state meet.
Other forwards on whom Paradis will be relying to score include seniors Ben Brook (1 & 8), Sean Hyatt (1 & 3) and Aiden Scripture (0 & 5).
“Once we get our lines together, we’re going to score some big goals,” Brown said. “We’re going to have a real good defensive team, and we have a real good goalie.”
Paradis expects his defensemen to generate a lot of Bangor’s offense by getting pucks to the net leading to goals, tip-ins and rebounds.
The Rams return four seasoned blue-line regulars with offensive capabilities in seniors Anthony Cacesse (3 & 5), Zach Burpee (3 & 3), Jacob Munroe (1 & 4) and Drew Dorr (1 & 2). The defense corps will be bolstered by freshmen Caleb Robbins and Mike McLean.
“Early on in the season, we’ll be in low-scoring games, but once we start clicking as a team, finding players who work well together, we’ll start putting pucks in the back of the net,” said Munroe, who was a second-team all-state selection last season.
Munroe said the forwards have been generating scoring chances in their exhibition games and just need to finish them.
Between the pipes, Hirsch, son of former University of Maine goalie and Orono High School hockey coach Greg Hirsch, received some valuable playing time last season while Jacob Henry was recuperating from appendix surgery.
He went 3-1 and turned in some solid performances.
Since 2011, the Rams have advanced at least to the semifinals every year and have played in three A North championship games in the past seven years.
They are still looking for their first regional championship.
This season, Class A consists of 13 teams in one statewide division, rather than North and South regions.
Every team will make the playoffs, and the top four seeds will earn byes into the quarterfinals. The Nos. 12 and 13 seeds will play a preliminary game for the right to take on the No. 5 seed in the first round.
“It’s going to be a successful season. It’s going to be fun,” Burpee said.
Bangor opens its season at 6:40 p.m. Friday at Sawyer Arena against Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle.
“I have a good feeling about this team,” Paradis said.