Gemma Landry, left, Sara Robert and Madison Conley of Lewiston High School. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

 

LEWISTON — Once Madison Conley left the blue line for a forward spot, the Lewiston girls’ hockey team’s “blue line” was born.

Even if Conley and her two other linemates weren’t Blue Devils yet.

Conley made the position switch in her seventh-grade season for the Maine Gladiators travel team, and she was placed with classmates Gemma Landry and Sara Robert on a line.

“She had speed, we saw that,” Landry said, “so (our Gladiators coach) put her at forward, and he put her with us, and we all kind of just clicked.”

“It clicked really fast,” Robert said.

“I think if I were to be with any linemates, and moving up to forward, I’d want to pick them,” Conley said. “They’ve helped me through the whole way, and they’ve always been nice and giving me points where I could have this or helps me with this.

Lewiston coach Ron Dumont scouted some of his future players a couple years ago when they were playing for a Maine Gladiators travel team, and that was the first time he got to watch a line that would become an important factor in the Blue Devils’ run to the state final this season.

“I think coming to those, he kind of saw that that would be a good idea for our team, and to get more stuff happening on the ice out there because we already knew where each other would be and how each other played,” Landry said.

“As coaches, high school coaches, nothing new, we see what’s coming up and have the occasion to see them play. And sometimes you make subtle changes or whatever, but those three just seem to kind of be a good mix of both skill level, personalities, and they just work really good together. So I put them together immediately, and basically have stayed with that since their freshmen year,” Dumont said. “People say ‘why are you keeping them together?’ and aside from what you are seeing, they give me no reason not to. If it’s working, and they have been steadily getting better.”

The line, which wears blue practice uniforms, hence the “blue line” moniker, scored the team’s first goal in their first preseason game as freshmen last year.

“And right from then our coach was supporting us and motivating us, and telling us that if we keep pushing we’re going to see growth,” Robert said. “And I think that was helpful.”

“I kind of feel like we started where we left off (with the Gladiators),” Landry said. “It was just like another leap into our journey together, and we were just playing at a higher level, more competitiveness because in high school you want to win. So it kind of just helped having them there.”

Dumont said the trio did “a real good job” as freshmen, but there were ups and downs.

“When you’re young, and you’re a young line with freshmen, they would have three or four games that they were, boy, things were clicking, then they kind of tailed off,” Dumont said.

He then said that hasn’t happened this season. He hasn’t had to maneuver line changes to hide his still-young line from more physical top lines of other teams. And they play well in both the offensive and defensive ends.

“I think I have a couple groups like that,” said Dumont, alluding to his “green line” of senior Katie Lemieux, sophomore Brie Dube and freshman Leah Landry as well.

The line also doesn’t get worn down. Having three players who have such seamless chemistry together makes the whole operation more efficient.

“Throughout the years, we’ve learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Robert said. “So on a faceoff, or in the neutral zone, we’ll switch places, or we’ll loop around, and we just know each other that well to be able to do that.”

Robert starts at the right wing, with Landry at center and Conley at left wing. But the players like to cycle down low — two behind the goal, one in front — and each one will move to any of the spots.

And Robert said they all “contribute something different.” She lauded Landry for her strength and ability to grind in the corners, and Conley for her speed and discipline in positioning. Conley praised Robert’s forechecking and backchecking, and also her “wonderful” passes.

The blue line has been a big part of the Blue Devils’ title run, but they will need to be better than ever Saturday against Cheverus/Kennebunk/Old Orchard Beach in the state championship game.

“I kind of made the comment a couple weeks ago, you know the Babe Ruth saying, ‘Yesterday’s home runs aren’t going to win today’s game,'” Dumont said. “I don’t care what they did. They know that. They need to come and bring it.”

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Lewiston’s Madison Conley brings the puck down the ice as Scarborough’s Gwen Diaz and Kathleen Murphy skid out behind her during Wednesday night’s hockey game at the Colisee in Lewiston. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

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