Five years ago, a small group of hockey players from Maine joined together to win the first-ever Lobsterfest hockey tournament. Now many of that group are hoping pull off a similar feat.

“The last time this group here played in any tournament together, these kids won five years ago,” said Mid Maine Selects coach Matt Lavallee. “It was the first time they had this tournament. It wasn’t that big then, but they all won it.”

The tournament has grown significantly larger since. Lobsterfest 2009, put on by BetterHockey.com, will feature junior hockey teams far and wide and compete at four different rinks — Travis Roy Arena, Falmouth Family Ice Center, the University of Southern Maine and a rink in Exeter, New Hampshire. The tournament begins Friday and is expected to feature 70 teams.

“It’s a local tournament that brings in all the top teams in the country and internationally,” said Lavallee. “What we’ve done is we have a number of kids that have been playing year round, but they haven’t been together. So we finally got them all together on one team.”

Five members of the team played on a team that won the tournament last year, including Auburn’s Isaac LaPointe, Jarod Lavallee of Sabattus, Lewiston’s Ridge Servidio and Waterville’s Jared Cunningham and Brandon Nale. Other locals on the club are Lewiston’s Griffin Wade, Auburn’s Ben Steele and Jed Drapeau from Greene.

“I feel we’re going to do a very good job,” said Lavallee. “I feel we’re going to be able to compete very well.”

The impetus for putting this group of 11-year olds together was when a handful of them played in an all-star tourney two months ago. Parents were interested in putting together a group of local talent specifically for this tournament. They found some sponsorship and approached Lavallee about coaching the team.

“Ultimately, when it’s all said and done, they’re going to be playing together in high school or against each other,” said Lavallee. “They’re all leaders on their own teams. Now they have an opportunity to play as a team. They’re not only learning how to be hockey players but learning how to be on a team too.”

The response has been so positive about this group that Lavallee has been encouraged to keep the team going. The plan now is to run it year round while working around schedules to allow players to play on their other teams also.

“Going forward, this is blossoming into something we never expected,” he said. “We haven’t even played a game yet, and I’m getting calls and people are on a waiting list.”

The Mid Maine Selects begin play Friday at 7:10 in Exeter. The club has four guaranteed games and is hoping to advance to Sunday’s playoff rounds.

“I have a good feeling for this weekend,” said Lavallee. “We have a tremendous group of hockey players. We’ll just see how, when you have all the pieces how the puzzle comes together.”


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