The disparity between the top teams in Maine and those giving chase is getting wider, and a pair of teams are early, heavy favorites in their respective conferences.

In Eastern Class A, Lewiston showed last season how powerful it could be in the regular season. With one of the tougher schedules in the state, the Blue Devils lost just twice and tied once.

St. Dom’s returned the favor in the playoffs with a win over the Blue Devils, and Edward Little returned to form with a 14-win campaign.

But, as in any season in any sport, and particularly in those sports populated by teenagers, the games are still left to be played.

Here’s how the schools from the tri-county area break down:

Edward Little

The Red Eddies are looking to continue building upon the successful season they had last year. This year, they pushed their strength-of-schedule a notch higher, which may not necessarily help in the wins-and-losses department, but will help in building the team’s overall skill level.

The team loses all-state forward and Travis Roy Award finalist Mat Gordon to graduation, and defenseman Dylan Pomerleau, but returns a good core group, including senior keeper Rich Belanger. Cody Russell, also a forward, should lead the front end, with a talented junior group.

Gray-New Gloucester/Poland

The Patriotic Knights made life difficult for some top teams last season, and with Kolby Arnold now in his senior season, the team will again have that potential. Arnold was an all-state selection last season and the offense will run through this talented forward again. But with senior Matt Ouellette back in net, and Sam Mayer back to run the blue line, this may be the program’s best chance yet to crack the playoff win column under the current format. Expect this team to be in the playoff conversation come February.

Leavitt

Leavitt is a consistent, middle-of-the-pack team in Western Class B. Since the league now only takes four teams to the playoffs, middle of the pack doesn’t quite mean a playoff berth anymore. With a new coach and a solid group of returning players, this team will take some time to ramp up, but should be once again battling for a playoff berth this season.

Lewiston

After a solid, two-loss regular season a year ago, Lewiston High School is aiming high. The program returns 36 of the 38 players in the program from a year ago, it has added a senior transfer who is one of the top players in the state in Colt Steele, and the Blue Devils have a solid group of incoming freshmen to push the older players.

Sam Cloutier, Ben Wigant, Eric Morin and Ryan Lemelin join Steele as seniors on the front end, and seniors Cody Dussault and Scott Ouellette will make things tough for opposing forwards on the Blue Devil blue line.

And lest we forget Cam Poussard. An all-state goalie for three years, Poussard and his fellow seniors have one more shot at coming out on top.

Maranacook/Hall-Dale-Winthrop

After finishing up last season a tie better than .500, this three-school co-op team is hoping this season brings a similar level of success, with, “maybe a couple more wins,” according to incoming coach Andy Dube.

Senior Jon Dale will be a focal point of this team in the net. Connor Lacasse is a solid, hard-hitting defender who will lead the team’s blue line group, and Rob Clark will be the player to watch on offense for the Hawks.

St. Dom’s

The Saints would normally be the most-feared team on their side of the draw, but across the shared ice of the Colisee in Lewiston, the spotlight is also a shared entity. The Saints will be one of the top teams in Maine this season, and will do so with six seniors, four of which played steadily in 2009-10. The key on offense will be Alex Parker, a lightning-fast skater with solid hands. Isaac Reed and Brian Mathieu will join Parker up front as seniors, while Dylan Rodrigue will continue to hold down the blue line.

A number of role players from last year are likely to step in and contribute this season, too, and the team’s junior class is something to see, led by Nate Bergeron, Spencer Martin, Cody Rodrigue and Danny Nadeau. In addition, sophomore Dakota Keene is one of the best at his age at this level.


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