Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Lincoln Academy girls hockey coach Jeremy Saxton had an idea this season: Take his best forward, sophomore Sarah Moore of Lisbon, and make her a hockey version of a football quarterback.

The move of Moore to defense has opened the Eagles’ offense, as the team has scored 91 goals this season. Moore has 25 of those goals, as well as 15 assists.

“It really has opened up our game. When she was playing forward, (the opposition) would have two to three players on her all the time,” Saxton said. “When she’s playing defense, (the opposition) won’t have all their players on the blue line and if they do, it opened the bottom of the offensive zone to us. She has more and (fellow defenseman) Mallory (Stuart), they have more control in the offensive zone (playing defense) — more like a quarterback position.”

Moore said it was difficult switching to defense at first because she couldn’t roam the ice anymore and had to play her assigned coverage. She did admit the move has helped the offense.

“(I am) able to join the rush, make it a 4-on-2, not just a 3-on-2, and I am able to move the puck around more,” Moore said.

Putting Moore on defense has gotten everybody involved in the offense this season. Saxton said every player has recorded a point this season.

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Moore, the captain, said the entire team has improved as the season has gone along.

“Honestly, I don’t think there has been one person that sticks out of everyone,” Moore said. “We all improved together, and we all have helped each other improve. We are really improving as a team.”

AREA PLAYERS HAVING SUCCESS AT NYA

The North Yarmouth Academy boys hockey team is getting contributions from area players this season. The Panthers are 8-10-1 at this point in the campaign.

The varsity team has five players from Lewiston: Michael Belleau, Connor Wolverton, Nick Pelletier, and twins Copper and Daxton St. Hilaire. There’s also one player from Auburn, in Ethan Brochu, and Matthew Power from Turner.

“I think what jumps out, and I am most surprised at, is they are not afraid to play at this pace (at the prep school level),” Michael Warde said. “When kids come from (the high school level) to the prep schedule, the speed and the size is the most intimidating to most players. “(These guys) don’t take a backseat and we played one of the top teams in prep hockey (Holderness) a week and a half ago, they weren’t out of place at all.”

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Warde said for the Lewiston players, in particular, having former Lewiston High School coach Jamie Belleau on Warde’s staff has helped in the transition to prep hockey.

The Panthers’ second-leading scorer is Daxton St. Hilaire (eight goals and 19 assists) and Warde said Daxton has the knack for going to the right places on the ice.

“Daxton St. Hilaire is not a perimeter player; he goes to the guts to the ice, he’s going to the blue paint,” Warde said. “Some of his goals might not be the prettiest, but I don’t think (it matters) if they are pretty or ugly.”

NYA’s third-leading scorer is Michael Belleau (five goals and 16 assists), who is in his second season with the Panthers. While Belleau didn’t get the full prep hockey experience last season because of how the coronavirus affected scheduling, he saw what he had to do to succeed at the prep hockey level after NYA played Bridgton Academy four times. Bridgton has postgraduate players who made up a strong team last year.

“I think that he went to the offseason saying, ‘You know what? I have to spend more time in the weight room,'” Warde said. “Who he hangs around with, he’s hanging around (former Lewiston and Twin City Thunder forward) Jeromey Rancourt; Rancourt is at Plymouth State now. When our guys train with college guys, kids playing collegiate hockey, that’s a wonderful thing. That’s something a coach can’t put a price tag on.”

TRAVIS ROY MAINE PREP CUP

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NYA will be hosting the Travis Roy Maine Prep Cup, beginning Monday, which will also feature Hebron Academy, Kents Hill School and Bridgton Academy.

Hebron will take on Bridgton Academy at 4 p.m. and NYA will face Kents Hill at 6 p.m. The tournament format follows the Beanpot (the college hockey tournament featuring the Boston Division I hockey schools: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern). The two winners Monday will face off Feb. 14 for the championship (6 p.m.) and the losers from Monday’s games will face off in the consolation game at 4 p.m. on Feb. 14 as well.

“It’s going to be really competitive; all four teams play a different style of hockey this year,” Warde said. “We are looking forward to that.”

The girls Travis Roy Maine Prep Cup features NYA, Kents Hill, Hebron and Berwick Academy. The round-robin format began on Jan. 21, with Berwick Academy defeating NYA 3-2, and Jan. 22, with Berwick defeating Kents Hill 4-0. The tournament continued Wednesday with NYA defeating Kents Hill 4-0. The remaining tournament games are Hebron vs. Berwick on Feb. 9, Hebron vs. NYA on Feb. 18, and Hebron vs. Kents Hill on Feb. 25.

The current girls Travis Roy Maine Prep Cup standings are as follows: 1. Berwick Academy 2-0-0, 4 points; 2. NYA 1-1-0, 2 points; 3. Hebron Academy 0-0-0, 0 points; 4. Kents Hill 0-2-0, 0 points.

REGIONAL AND STATE FINALS TIMES

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The MPA has listed the times for the regional and state championships on the ice hockey bulletin on its website.

The girls regional finals on Feb. 16 at Troubh Ice Arena in Portland will be at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. The state championship game Feb. 19 at Troubh will be at 3 p.m.

The Class A boys state semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on March 8 will start at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The Class B North final at Alfond Arena in Orono and the Class B South final at Troubh, both slated for March 9, will have 6 p.m. start times.

The state championship games March 12 at Cross Insurance Arena will be held back-to-back. The Class B state championship will be at 1 p.m. The Class A state championship will be at 3 p.m. In years past, when the state games were at The Colisee, the Class B game was at 1 p.m. and the Class A game was at 6 p.m.

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