AUBURN – Hird from Brewster and LaRue.

Brewster from Hird and LaRue.

Perhaps the most popular, LaRue from Brewster and Hird.

Rink announcers across the state are likely tired of reading those three names every time Edward Little comes calling. They’ve had to announce at least one of them for each of 65 goals and 78 assists this season.

And if the Red Eddies want to win their Eastern Class A quarterfinal game against Lewiston tonight, they know that Shawn Hird, Billy Brewster and Corey LaRue need to be at their very best.

“Having the talent we have out there with those three players is definitely beneficial to this team,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said. “It has been all year.”

The Eddies started the season on a tear. To no one’s surprise, it was the power-play combo of Hird, Brewster and LaRue – that keyed the surge. Through five games, the EL power play was hovering at an unprecedented 50 percent (14-for-28).

The chemistry between the three players – two sophomores and a junior – didn’t develop over night.

“I put them together in summer hockey last summer,” Latuscha said. “I saw the talent they had, and I figured I’d try them out together.”

But even before last summer, the three had played together in the Auburn Youth Hockey League.

“It helps so much that we’ve played together so long,” Hird said. “We click well, and the power play benefits from that.”

In the first edition of the Heal Points this season, EL was atop the East. Even more surprising, was that LaRue jumped out to a huge lead in the scoring race.

Fifteen games later, EL has slipped back into fifth heading into the playoffs, but LaRue finished strong. His 59 points on the year is tops among all Tier I high school players.

“I’m pretty sure all of the points I have came from my linemates,” LaRue said. “We’ve all been setting each other up all year. We’ve been working together since we were mites.”

“(LaRue) has a lot of heart,” Latuscha said. “He works hard and takes the team on his shoulders. He’s proven who he really is.”

During the Eddies’ slide from the top to the middle, the power play has seen a similar slide.

“I think they’re in a slump,” Latuscha said. “They’re going to have to snap out of it (tonight) and put things together. If they possess the puck a little more and don’t get too fancy, they’ll be all right.”

The players skated through practice one last time Monday afternoon. The final thing the Eddies worked on? The power play.

“We set aside time at the end of each practice to work just on that,” Hird said. “It helps to keep us going.”

With the task of facing the Blue Devils at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee tonight, the power play is first and foremost on Edward Little’s mind.

“We need to make better decisions and show discipline,” Latuscha said. “We can’t use the power play when we’re the team in the box. We need to capitalize on the power play.”

REFER

For more on the high school hockey playoffs, including a breakdown of the brackets and predictions, visit Justin Pelletier’s blog, ‘The Q Factor,’ at www.sunjournal.com.


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