LEWISTON — From the outside looking in, Messalonskee crushed Class B East hockey this winter.

On the way to their third consecutive regional championship, the Eagles scored just a hair beneath seven goals per game.

They defeated Bangor and Falmouth, the top two tournament seeds in Class A East and West, respectively.

The record book says the Eagles are undefeated at 20-0 heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. state championship clash with Gorham (17-3) at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Coach Mike Latendresse is the first to acknowledge, however, that Messalonskee was beaten by a couple of foes that don’t wear pads or skates: Injury and illness.

“We are the healthiest we have been all season. We were not healthy from day one,” Latendresse said. “We had some kids hurt from other sports. The first game, one kid broke his arm. Then we lost another one right away to a concussion. We had guys out sick all the time. We had pneumonia go through the team.”

Instead of bringing down the Eagles, or pulling them closer to the pack in an otherwise one-sided run through the region, the rash of medical difficulties simply harbored more bad news for opponents.

“What it has done is made us even better,” Latendresse said. “Other guys had to play and perform. We had a chance to test them, and now they’re ready.”

Twelve times this season, Messalonskee has scored seven or more goals, including a 9-3 rout of Presque Isle in the East title game Tuesday.

The Cunningham brothers, Chase (32 goals, 47 assists) and Jared (28-42), have been almost unstoppable. Chase Cunningham holds the school record with 248 career points.

Add in their linemate, Josh Towle, plus Dan Condon (28-31) and defensive stalwart Dylan Burton (9-40), and it is nearly impossible to keep all the Eagles’ weapons tangled up.

“We definitely have been able to play three or four lines, and our top two lines have been pretty efficient,” Latendresse said. “Especially the past three weeks or so, the scoring has been very spaced out. We’ve had four or five different goal scorers every game.”

Messalonskee fell victim to the Greely express in its two previous journeys to the state final, dropping a 6-2 decision in 2012 before getting shut out 3-0 a year ago.

First-time finalist Gorham took care of the Eagles’ recent nemesis, dethroning the Rangers, 4-2, in Wednesday’s West final.

“I’ve seen them play four times. They’re a very good team. They’re very skilled. Their first line is very productive and very fast,” Latendresse said of Gorham. “There are a lot of qualities about their team that I like. It’s a tough matchup for us, and I think it’s going to be a great game.”

The Rams have spread out the scoring, as well, with Carl Bear, Jared Wood, Shawn Sullivan and Jordan Wood doing a majority of the damage.

Aside from a regular-season sweep at the hands of Greely, Gorham’s only other loss was to Class A Scarborough.

Messalonskee’s primary advantage could be its familiarity with the atmosphere of a state final.

“There’s no doubt about it. Even last year was a different feeling,” Latendresse said. “Just watching the Eastern Maine final, I felt throughout the Presque Isle game that we were very calm, very controlled.”


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