Freshman Madison Pelletier is the only student from Gray-New Gloucester High School that plays on the Greely/Gray-New Gloucester girls’ hockey team. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

FALMOUTH — Nervousness is nothing out of the ordinary for a high school freshman athlete, but the situation Madi Pelletier found herself in was anything but normal.

After finishing up middle school, the resident of the Gray-New Gloucester community didn’t have a high school girls’ hockey team awaiting her arrival. It was only after athletic directors at neighboring and rival schools Gray-New Gloucester and Greely met that Pelletier finally had a team.

That was just one shoe that had to drop: Pelletier had a team, but she hopped onto the ice with a group of girls she hadn’t met before. None of them were teammates during her youth hockey days with the Maine Gladiators program.

“I was very nervous the first night, going into it. Like, I didn’t know what to expect,” Pelletier said. “The first week I was very quiet, didn’t really talk to anyone, but they were very welcoming and it’s just a great team.”

“I met her this summer,” Rangers coach Nate Guerin said. “We had a meeting to talk about potentially merging. We were thinking we were going to get three or four girls, and various things happened and we ended up with just one. But she’s a really important piece of the team at this point.”

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Once a virtual freshman free agent trying to find a team to call her own, Pelletier is now just one win away from calling herself a state champion.

“That’s crazy,” Pelletier said. “To be honest, I didn’t think this year was going to be that great, coming into it, because I was so nervous. But it’s been one of the best years in my hockey career, and I’m just so excited.”

Guerin said he can’t imagine going through what Pelletier did joining a new team, but his philosophy has been to let his players take care of each other in the locker room. Luckily for Pelletier, that meant a few key veterans to take her under their wings.

“I think it’s important that kind of the culture of the team that we’ve built over the past eight seasons, the seniors are the ones that carry that to whatever extent they want,” Guerin said.

Senior captains Courtney Sullivan, Bridget Roberts and Molly Horton have all spent time playing on forward lines with Pelletier, who has been able to hold her own in helping the Rangers reach Saturday’s state final against Cheverus/Kennebunk.

“I look up to them a lot, and they’re also my friends,” Pelletier said. “But I try to keep up with them as much as I can and try to get on their level as well.”

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Pelletier said she knew of Sullivan and Roberts’ exploits on the ice, and knew of the Rangers’ past battles with the likes of St. Dominic Academy and Lewiston/Monmouth/Oak Hill. Those expectations only made the newcomer want to work that much harder.

“Just picking up the speed of the game, I think she’s in a lot better shape now than she was in November, to the point where she’s really elevated her game throughout the course of the season,” Guerin said. “It’s been fun to watch.”

Pelletier proved her worth in the regional final against Lewiston/Monmouth/Oak Hill, scoring 59 seconds into the second period on an assist from Sullivan. That gave the Rangers a two-goal lead that nearly held up in regulation before they finally won in double overtime.

“I just saw the puck coming and just shot it in,” Pelletier said. “That was probably one of the craziest goals I’ve had, most exciting, as a team and for myself. They were just so excited.”

Pelletier’s ability to score has been a “huge” boost to the team, according to Guerin.

“Any time we’re getting secondary scoring, any time it’s not Bridget or Courtney, it’s big for us,” Guerin said. “Madi does a great job getting to the net, and our seniors do a great job finding her when she’s open. Huge help.”

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Guerin said he hopes Pelletier feels like she’s found a home with the program, which Pelletier said she has. But she also has another family back at Gray-New Gloucester High School that is behind her as well.

“It was weird that I was the only girl from Gray-New Gloucester, because not many people knew that I even played hockey in my town,” Pelletier said. “Especially the last two weeks, with the playoffs starting, they’ve said a lot to me (that) they’ve been excited for me and just congratulating me because I’m the only girl and they never knew that before.”

Though Pelletier walks halls during the day dressed in the red and blue of the Patriots, Guerin said he hopes there’s some room for maroon in his young forward’s heart.

“I mean, as far as hockey is concerned, I think she definitely is (a Ranger),” Guerin said. “I hope she would say the same thing.”

So does Pelletier consider herself a Ranger?

“Yes,” she said. “I’m just so excited that I got put on this team.”

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Lewiston/Monmouth/Oak Hill’s Katie Lemieux keeps her eye on the goal as Greely/Gray-New Gloucester’s Madison Pelletier plays defense during Wednesday night’s North final hockey game at the Colisee in Lewiston. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)


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