LEWISTON – Peter Gustavson’s first impression of hockey: Too much riding for an experience that was too cold and gave him a headache.

The Falmouth High School senior recalls the interminable ride along Route 1 from a 5-year-old’s playroom in Rockland to Dayton Arena in Brunswick with the fondness most of us reserve for memories of a root canal.

“My father had trouble getting me on the ice,” Gustavson said. “All I knew was that my helmet hurt and it made my head too sweaty.”

Twelve years later, the shy squirt has grown into Maine’s most polished senior hockey player. For his exploits as a goal-scorer, student and community leader, Gustavson won the Travis Roy Award on Sunday afternoon.

Jon Rutt of St. Dom’s and Aaron Buzzell of Bangor also were finalists for the trophy presented at Ramada Inn Conference Center. The Class A High School Hockey Coaches Association presents the award every March at its all-state banquet.

Gustavson is also Falmouth’s first all-Class A first team player. The Yachtsmen petitioned the Maine Principals’ Association to ascend from Class B prior to the 2003-04 season.

His 88 career goals and 115 points are school records.

“He’s probably the most accomplished player we’ve ever had,” said Falmouth coach Scott Rousseau, a Lewiston native. “He’s the player little kids in Falmouth look up to, the one they emulate and the one whose records they’ll hope to break someday.”

Before master of ceremonies Norm Karkos of WMTW-TV announced the winner, Gustavson said he was honored that the coaches considered him worthy of the statuette that bears Roy’s name.

Roy, who grew up in Yarmouth and played at North Yarmouth and Tabor academies, was paralyzed after he slid head-first into the boards only 11 seconds into his first shift as a freshman at Boston University. He turns 30 next month.

“Travis embodies all the qualities that I value and try to emulate,” Gustavson said.

Rutt also recalled humble beginnings to his hockey career. He learned to skate at age 4 on a backyard pond in the Bar Mills neighborhood of York County.

His family later moved to the Augusta area, where Rutt moved up through the ranks in youth leagues at Kennebec Ice Arena.

When Rutt encountered Bob Boucher early in his freshman year, the venerable St. Dom’s coach thought he might be meeting a prospective team manager.

“Four years ago they told me he was a small kid with a lot of heart. I took one look at him and said, You’ve got the small part right.’ As soon as I saw him practice, though, I knew he was going to be one of our all-time best at St. Dom’s,” Boucher said.

Still, Rutt spent most of his first year with the junior varsity and only cracked the Saints’ third line as a sophomore.

“Every team growing up, I was one of the smallest players on the team,” said Rutt, now roughly a strapping six feet. “And due to some luck, some hard work and my parents and coaches, here I am as one of the three finalists today.”

The third finalist, Buzzell, distinguished himself as a goaltender, backstopping Bangor to Eastern Class A runner-up laurels.

Gustavson, Rutt and Buzzell led 17 first-team Class A all-stars, a roster that includes local players Matt Nadeau and Kris Bennett of Edward Little, Adam Wilding and Kyle Beaulieu of Lewiston and Ryan Guerin, Mike Carpenter and Matt Manson of St. Dom’s.

Wilding, Bennett and Guerin made the All-Academic team, comprised of one nominee from each of the 28 Class A schools.

Lewiston graduate Mike Routhier, now coaching at Brunswick, was named Eastern Class A Coach of the Year. Jay Mazur of Scarborough captured the Western A award.

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