Norm Gagne, who took Scarborough High to the Class A championship game in 2015 and 2016, now coaches at Edward Little. The two schools will face each other Tuesday night in a Class A semifinal in Lewiston. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

In a sense, Edward Little boys hockey coach Norm Gagne set himself up for Tuesday’s Class A semifinal matchup with Scarborough. 

He didn’t peer into a crystal ball and predict the Red Eddies would take on the Red Storm, but he did help get the ball rolling on Scarborough coach Jake Brown’s head coaching career. 

Now here the teacher and apprentice are, one game away from a state championship game with the other’s team standing in the way.

“It’s going to be mixed emotions there,” Gagne said. “I’m glad to see him in that situation, to be in the semifinals, and I’m proud of him for what he’s done with his team. On the other side, it’s going to be a little different for me, seeing one of my former players and former assistant, and now I got to go against him.” 

To make the matchup even more fitting, the game will take place at Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where Gagne and Brown once donned Lewiston blue together as a coach and player, respectively, from 2005-06 to 2007-08. Furthermore, the winner will potentially face the Blue Devils (another semifinalist) for the state title on Saturday.

“I think it always is a different feeling, coaching in the Colisee. Just so many memories come to mind both as a player and coach,” Brown said. “It should be a fun game, and I am just proud of my players and coaching staff because this has taken a lot of hard work to get here.” 


When Brown took over Gagne at Scarborough two seasons ago, the Red Storm were only two years removed from a state final appearance and three seasons removed from winning the program’s first Class A state title. But Brown had to build from the ground up in his first season as a head coach. 

“I think these seniors have helped create their own culture for the program,” Brown said. “These guys have been through so much together the past couple of years. Going from 3-15 to where we are now takes leadership and guys who are committed and trust each other.

“Our success is because these guys trusted a process when they came in. We all knew it would take some time, but it is definitely worth all of the work that we put into it.”

Jake Brown took over as the boys’ hockey coach at Scarborough High in 2017 when Norm Gagne took a job with Edward Little Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

Trust also helped Gagne groom Brown while the latter was a Scarborough assistant. 

“There were times when he was coaching with me that I would get frustrated with some of the things that he wanted to do, but I let him do it because I thought that he had to learn for himself, and I gave him a lot of leeway. And I think that because of it he’s become a real good coach,” Gagne said. “I saw that in him from the get-go, and that’s why I asked him to come along with me. I liked his style and the way he dealt with the players, and I think the players reacted well to his style. I’m a little more to the point, and a little gruff at times, and that’s why I like to get my younger coaches to deal with a lot of the players.” 

Another difference between the two coaches shows in their respective teams’ style this season. Gagne likes to stay a little more conservative, while Brown said he favors “a more up-tempo and fast game.” 


“We definitely were a good partnership when he was at Scarborough, and now coaching separate teams, I think you can tell the identity of the two teams are a little different,” Brown added. 

Gagne still sees some of his system in Brown’s Scarborough team, but he said that Brown has tweaked it, “and he’s really good at that.” 

Gagne, himself, had to make a tweak when his team was mired in a 1-10 start to the season, including a heartbreaking loss to Scarborough. He changed up the practice plans, introduced new drills and used film review to get his players to understand their mistakes and how to correct them. 

And like Brown’s 3-15 Scarborough team had to trust his system and process, so too did the Red Eddies when they were on a 10-game losing streak. 

The two processes paved the path to Tuesday’s duel. 

“I think both teams come into the game playing well and both teams had a strong finish to the regular season,” Brown said. “Once the puck drops, past success goes out the window and it comes down to whatever team can play a complete game for 45 minutes.” 


Gagne singled out Scarborough’s top line of seniors Dawson Gendreau, Nolan Matthews and Cam Budway as one of the keys to the Red Storm’s success. And senior defenseman Ethan Jasa, like Gendreau, is a semifinalist for the Travis Roy Award. Those four are the top four point-scorers for the Red Storm, each recording double-digit assists.

Brown, meanwhile, said the play of Red Eddies freshman goalie Gage Ducharme has been a catalyst for Edward Little’s turnaround. He also highlighted the Red Eddies’ defense and overall size and strength. 

Brown said it’s fun to coach against Gagne, and the two still stay in touch. But friendships will be pushed to the wayside when the teams take the ice. Gagne said it’s going to be a battle.

Edward Little High School boys head hockey coach Norm Gagne runs drills during the first day of practice before the 2017-18 season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

And, Brown said, not just of coaching acumen. 

“I think we are both certainly trying to make minor adjustments as the game goes on,” Brown said. “But both teams come in with a game plan and whatever team can stick to their game plan for a full game will most likely win.” 

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