Even though the season is young, there is just one undefeated team in the Class B North boys hockey Heal Points: Hampden Academy.
Thanks to two Coopers, senior center Cooper Leland and junior goalie Cooper Ryan, the Broncos have jumped out to a 4-0-1 start that includes a 2-0 victory over Class A Bangor.
Leland, a two-time, first-team All-Class B North selection, has notched a team-leading seven goals to go with three assists. Linemate Owen Cross also has a team-high 10 points with two goals and eight assists.
“Cooper Leland is deadly with the puck. He has a great shot, and if you leave him open around the net, you’ll pay for it,” Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said.
Ryan, who last season played for a Junior team, the Maine Moose, has returned to Hampden Academy and produced a 1.55 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
“Cooper Ryan was the difference-maker in our game,” Paradis said. “He stood on his head in the second period. We had 22, 23 shots. He takes up a lot of net. He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done.”
This is HA’s best start in five seasons under coach Eric MacDonald, who said there is still a lot of work to do.
“We’re happy but we’re not satisfied. We know we haven’t done anything yet,” MacDonald said, referring to the fact the Broncos have never won a hockey state title. “Our goal is to outwork teams every night. We want to make teams play a 200-foot game.”
The fact the Broncos have allowed only six goals in five games is the way MacDonald wants it.
“We focus a lot on the defensive zone,” Leland said.
Ryan said his season with the Moose was valuable. They played 60 games compared with the 18 allowed for high school teams during the regular season.
“It was good for my development, but it was tough to leave my friends behind,” said Ryan, who in the fall again played for the Moose, which became a half-year team this season, enabling him to compete with the Broncos.
“We have a real good defense corps. We have a lot of upperclassmen. They keep guys to the outside, and that really helps me out,” Ryan said.
Leland said Ryan’s play in net has been a key component.
“We have a ton of trust in him,” Leland said. “He’s big and his mechanics are real good. But we still want to keep the defensive zone locked down.”
Ryan was an all-conference selection his freshman year.
The other winger on Leland’s line is sophomore Khaleb Hale (4 goals, 4 assists), who was an all-rookie team pick last season.
The line played together for a healthy portion of the 2018-19 season, during which the Broncos wound up 10-8-1 after a 5-4 overtime loss to Camden Hills in the quarterfinals.
The second line features senior center Sam Economy (2 & 0), who broke his ankle midway through last season, between sophomore John Vickery (1 & 2) and junior Mike Delahanty (1 & 1). MacDonald also has confidence in his third line, which is composed of senior Peyton Chahley between sophomore Morgan Tash (1 goal) and junior Christian Larson.
Sophomore Cam Henderson, an all-rookie selection last year, is the top point-producer among the defensemen with a goal and three assists. He is paired with senior Adam Thompson.
Senior Noah Dancoes is on a tandem with junior Parker Shawley (2 assists) and junior Eli Wilson is the fifth defenseman.
Leland said the Bangor win means a lot to the Broncos.
“We hadn’t beaten them in my four years,” he said.
Leland said everybody has contributed to their fast start, but, like his coach, he maintains there is a long way to go.
“We have to keep working hard every day in practice, keep working on our systems. We want to keep improving,” Leland said.
Hampden returns to action Jan. 7 when it plays Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain/Madison/Lawrence.