2019 Sun Journal Boy’s Hockey Player of the year Noah Austin. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)

The hope was for Noah Austin to provide senior leadership to a very young Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Hyde boys hockey team. Austin, though, ended up giving the Eagles so much more.

An end to a long postseason drought.

A new single-season scoring record.

A first Travis Roy Award winner.

“I was honestly not expecting to have as good of a season as I did, having to wear (a knee) brace and what not, and not really sure how I was going to use it to play,” Austin said.

Partially torn knee ligaments derailed Austin’s senior soccer season at Lisbon, but through “a lot of physical therapy to get back” he didn’t let it affect his final season of high school hockey.

Austin compiled an Eagles record and Class A-leading 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) in the regular season, added an assist in a near-upset of Edward Little in the Eagles’ first playoff game in 14 years, and did all of it as the marked man by every opponent.

Just like he did all season, Noah Austin had to fend off all comers to be named the 2018-19 Sun Journal All-Region Boys Hockey Player of the Year.

“Individually — obviously he had a big season as a junior — but yet at the same time coming back from the injury, I was just looking for him to be a good example to a very young team,” Eagles coach A.J. Kavanaugh said. “I mean, to have success as a team certainly wasn’t the mindset.”

But a 3-0-1 start to the season got the Eagles believing. Austin said it took him two or three games to feel “almost 100 percent” healthy and comfortable playing while wearing the brace. Any lag certainly didn’t show, as Austin put up 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) during that four-game unbeaten start.

Austin teamed with Hyde newcomer Ian Struck and freshman Hunter Merryman for much of the season, in what Kavanaugh called them “a very dangerous line to deal with.”

“It was awesome because they would be open in front of the net, where I could slip some passes through to them, even with two guys with me, and then they’re standing all alone for a tap-in goal — which, if they’re not in the right spot, those never happen and don’t really give us the chance to win games,” Austin said.

Even when the Eagles weren’t winning, Austin was still producing. The 3-0-1 start was followed by a four-game losing streak, but Austin tallied at least one point in each game. In fact, he found the score sheet in every game until a season-finale loss to eventual state champion St. Dom’s.

He had four-goal games twice against Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale, had a seven-point game against Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills, and even factored into both goals in a 5-2 loss at Lewiston — a game in which he played defense.

“I actually played defense growing up in travel hockey until I was … I think seventh grade was when I moved back to forward. I used to just pretty much be an offensive defenseman, and make plays and stuff like that, rush the puck,” Austin said. “I didn’t really mind. I honestly liked defense, just because I was comfortable with it. And it helped the team win (some games).”

He also played on the blue line in a victory over Class B playoff participant Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hil/Poland, picking up two points in the win.

“It was by far the best-played game defensively and offensively we had at that point in the season,” Kavanaugh said. “He just did everything that was asked of him, and then some. We had injuries, we had eligibility issues, and he was the one constant throughout. And that’s why it was so much more than just the points.”

The points didn’t always come as easy as Austin made it seem. Teams tried to shut him down, and Kavanaugh admitted that it “got frustrating for us as a coaching staff” to try to figure out how to keep Austin a factor. They moved him back to defense and slid him out to the wing, taking him away from his favored center spot.

“Against most teams it was challenging,” Austin said. “I needed the guys on my line to help out and allow me to pass off to them to get separation to score some goals. But other than that it wasn’t too burdening.”

“He’s one of those players that once he gets going he’s tough to stop,” Kavanaugh said. “Whether he’s getting double-teamed, triple-teamed, sometimes you just can’t beat him, no matter what you do.”

Austin’s final game came in a quarterfinal loss to Edward Little. It was obvious from the start that EL was putting much of its defensive focus on Austin, but he still found a way to assist on the game-tying goal just before the end of regulation.

“This season was really special,” Austin said. “Winning the Travis Roy was obviously a big point. Finishing my career with 164 points. Winning KVAC player of the year for our conference. Everything just was really good.”

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2019 Sun Journal Boy’s Hockey Player of the year Noah Austin. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham)


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