Kyle Smith and Kirk Bolduc are no strangers to each other. For three years, the hockey players from Edward Little and Lewiston, respectively, have squared off against each other on the ice.

In the past two years, the Red Eddies won every regular-season confrontation with the Blue Devils and concluded that run with their first-ever Class A championship, thanks largely to Smith. Last year, Lewiston won the state title, thanks largely to Bolduc.

This year, the two teams battled all year for the right to play in the state title game. In the decisive game at Alfond Arena in Waterville, Smith had two critical assists, while Bolduc scored both Lewiston goals.

For their achievements on the ice this season, EL junior Kyle Smith and Lewiston senior Kirk Bolduc have been named 2002-03 Sun-Journal Co-Players of the Year in Maine high school hockey.

Rising to the occasion

Kyle Smith can score. He wields a touch around the net that every coach dreams of having in at least one player every year. This season, Smith tallied 71 points in 31 games, the most by any player in Class A. As a junior, Smith was named an alternate captain by the Red Eddies.

“From a physical standpoint, he has good size, good hands and he’s an excellent skater,” said EL coach, Jamie Belleau, “but he had been putting points on the board since his freshman season. This season, the reason he was above and beyond in my mind was because of his maturity as a leader on this team.”

As one of the top players in the league, Smith had to constantly fight off opposing teams’ best defenders and often felt the brunt of big hits and minor hooking to try and slow him down.

“He showed great composure this season,” said Belleau. “There were several times where he could have retaliated, and he almost never did. That’s what put him over the edge this season.”

“If Coach saw that I was getting frustrated, he’d pull me off and remind me about staying calm,” said Smith. “Last year I got in trouble with that a bit, so this year that was a big point for me.”

For Smith, there is now one more year during which he can add to his statistical totals. More important to him, though is to put his school’s name on the team trophy one more time.

Working for it

Kirk Bolduc’s numbers weren’t as gaudy as some of his fellow seniors. They were good, with 53 points in 28 games, but they weren’t the best.

Aside from numbers, however, is something that stats cannot measure. To be one of the best players in the state, a player has to have heart. He has to exude emotion to the point of near exhaustion, and he has to give everything he has on a consistent basis.

No other player in Class A epitomized that this season better than Bolduc.

“I’ve had guys come through here with good skill, and others with a strong work ethic,” said Lewiston coach Tim Smith. “But every coach loves it when you get a guy like Kirk that has both, the whole package.”

“I wasn’t the biggest guy or the fastest to start with,” added Bolduc. “I had to work hard to be able to compete at this level.”

Even his opponents, those against which he wreaked havoc for much of the season, had respect for his work ethic.

“He has to be one of the hardest working kids in the state,” said Belleau. “He has good hockey ability, but on top of that is his tremendous work ethic. Starting a team, I would pick Kirk and Kyle as two of my first players.”

Next year, Bolduc plans to play junior hockey, potentially with the Junior Pirates or with an established Eastern Junior Hockey League team.

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