It’s been a roller-coaster season for Edward Little. 

The Red Eddies have had their share of twists and turns, ups and downs, starts and stops. 

The ups have been euphoric: beating rival Lewiston for the first time in nine years, topping Lawrence/Skowhegan for their first playoff win in several seasons and once again winning the Gippers Holiday Classic. The downs have left Edward Little scratching its head: blowing leads in back-to-back losses to Scarborough and being swept in the regular season by Lawrence/Skowhegan in which half the team was in the stands for the second meeting. 

Through thick and thin, the Red Eddies have stayed the course and they’ve been rewarded with a regional semifinal tilt with St. Dominic Academy today at 2 p.m. The senior class, though small, has played a pivotal role in keeping the team together through the rough patches. 

“This senior class, not only have they beaten Lewiston for the first time in several years and they’ve done extremely well this season playing the Tier 1 teams, they’ve also made the playoffs every single year and that’s a positive thing and to win their first playoff game is a significant accomplishment,” Edward Little coach Craig Latuscha said. “It’s a testament to how hard they work and the type of players they are and how much heart they have.” 

The Red Eddies’ senior class consists of just four skaters, three of which have played all four years with Edward Little. Branden Dyer has been a captain for three years and was an assistant captain as a freshman. Cade Chapman leads the team in scoring with 33 points (13 goals, 20 assists). Goaltender Zach Gosselin has appeared in four games, sporting a 1.45 goals against average and a .918 save percentage. 

“We started off with three seniors,” Latuscha said. “To start off with such a small class is something that’s not usually common in high school hockey, specifically in the Twin Cities. Those three seniors that started with me have been with me for four years and they’ve played a lot of varsity hockey. I had one goalie, one forward and one defenseman. When you don’t have as many upperclassmen leading a team, sometimes it’s very difficult, but these seniors tend to have to put our other kids on their shoulders throughout the season.” 

Edward Little added a fourth senior to the mix when Dixon Dilodovico transferred from Lewiston midway through last season. In his first full season with the Red Eddies, Dilodovico has six goals and three assists. 

On the ice, the seniors have shown up in the biggest of moments. The senior class accounted for three of Edward Little’s four goals against Lewiston and three of its six goals against Lawrence/Skowhegan in the playoffs. Cade Chapman forced overtime with St. Dom’s by scoring with less than a second remaining in regulation. On senior night, Dyer and Chapman each netted a pair of goals and Gosselin made 21 saves for his third win of the season. 

“It’s really about being a family and having a good team bond,” Dyer said. “All the guys look out for each other and it’s really easy when you have a bunch of brothers out there with you.” 

With so few seniors on the roster — Edward Little’s four seniors is tied with Lewiston and Noble/Wells for the fewest among the eight remaining teams in the Class A playoffs — some of the leadership responsibilities have fallen to the junior class. With seven juniors on the roster, they, too, have been vital to the team’s success this season and will have high expectations going into next year. 

“Our junior class is probably the strongest class we’ve had in years,” Latuscha said. “The junior class has put in a lot of time and effort into this program as well as the seniors. Their goal is to make the playoffs every year just like the seniors. Their ultimate goal is something we’re striving for next year. Next year is hopefully one of our top years.” 

Liam Benson leads the juniors on the stat sheet with 23 points (7 g, 16 a), while Ben Steele and Tyler Couture help anchor the blue line with Chapman. 

“We all try to take part in leadership,” Benson said. “We all try to do our own part. We all work as a family and we all work together well.” 

The juniors accounted for 55 points during the regular season.  

“They’re a great core group,” Dyer said of the juniors. “They’ve really stepped in even since they were freshmen and have really helped us out.” 

Whether the Red Eddies advance to the regional final come Saturday evening or their season ends at the hands of the Saints, Latuscha has seen tremendous growth in his players, seniors all the way down to the freshmen. Led by the seniors, Edward Little has believed in itself, even if others haven’t. 

“It’s a sense of accomplishment, not just for me but my entire coaching staff and everybody that buys in,” Latuscha said. “Everybody has to buy in and you have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in your team. If nobody else believes in you, as long as the ones inside the locker room do, there’s been times this season where no one believed we could do it and we’ve pulled through. Any team on any day can beat anybody and that’s the mentality we have. One period at a time, one shift at a time, one game at a time.” 

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