Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester hockey players that will play a pivotal role in the upcoming playoffs are goalie Vincent Lupardo, middle, Blake Springer, left, and Kaden Trenoweth, right. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester Kings are ready for the challenge the boys hockey playoffs will provide.

The Kings are the No. 4 seed entering the Class B South playoffs with a 10-7-1 record but will have to do it without some of their top performers in the regular season.

Second-leading scorer Reese Collins and top-four defenseman Robbie Gladu are injured and won’t be available for Wednesday’s quarterfinal game against No. 5 Cape Elizabeth (9-6-1).  The third-leading scorer, Gibson Dozois, has also been off the ice, but Kings coach Joe Hutchinson said on Friday that he will be back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game.

Collins has eight goals and seven assists in 13 games and Gladu has three goals and two assists. Dozois has seven goals and three assists in 14 games.

Leading scorer (eight goals and eight assists in 16 games) Kaden Trenoweth said every man on the roster will need to chip in with the loss of their teammates.

“This is a team game and everybody is going to step up; everybody is going to have to,” Trenoweth said. “I think we have the team to do that.”


Trenoweth said over the next couple of days, he will have to develop chemistry with new linemates, with Collins out of the lineup.

However, Trenoweth said all the forwards are a tight-knit group.

“We are a little bit all over the place (on the ice) sometimes, but we band together and we move forward as a unit,” Trenoweth said. “That’s what makes us unstoppable; we do everything as a team.”

Hutchinson said the forwards and the defensemen are playing at a quicker pace than the beginning of the season and making faster decisions with the puck.

Defenseman Blake Springer agrees that each player will need to give a little more.

“I don’t think there’s any way losing them will help us; it will push us to work a lot harder than we have,” Springer said. “We are going to have to, especially missing two of our top (players). We are just going to work a lot harder and grind out the games.”


Grinding out games has been a mantra for the Kings down the stretch in the regular season, winning five straight games from Feb. 9-19, including wins against top seed Greely and next week’s quarterfinal opponent, Cape Elizabeth.

Hutchinson said those games were both physically and mentally draining.

“The kids got up for those (games), but each one of those took a lot out of us to win those games,” Hutchinson said. “The Cape one, that was a physical battle. The kids played really hard and after that game, they were exhausted. They took a beating, but they won that game in a big spot. Playing two more games in the next three days didn’t help us.”

The Kings defeated the Capers 3-1 last Saturday but lost their final two games against York and a rematch with Greely.

When the Kings play the likes of Greely, the two-time defending state champions, Cape Elizabeth and No. 2 seed Brunswick, they embrace going up against some of the perennial powers in B South.

“We are a bunch of small schools combined together going up against all these big dogs,” Trenoweth said. “We really took that underdog mentality and showed that we can beat anybody. Beating those top (teams) propelled us.”


Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester beat Brunswick in early January.

Senior goalie Vincent Lupardo said the Kings know what to expect going into the playoffs after beating Greely, Brunswick and Cape Elizabeth during the season.

“They really help prepare us; we kind of know what we are going up against,” Lupardo said. “It makes it a lot easier, but at the same time, it doesn’t change the game we are going to play. At the end of the day, it’s us and against Cape.”

Hutchinson said Springer, along with Trenoweth and Lupardo, have stepped up their games in the absence of others.

“Blake is solid back there; he handles the puck well and usually makes pretty good decisions with the puck,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said other defenders like Jamison Bergeron and Michael Phillips are playing well.


“What worked well (in the regular season) has been our defense, our back-checking and fore-checking,” Hutchinson said. “We have played pretty good in those areas.”

Springer said there’s trust among the defensemen.

“The trust in the defensemen really have come through,” Springer said. “Before, Robbie (Gladu) and I were going every other (shift). Now, the younger guys, they are really stepping up and they are really improving.”

Springer and Gladu are the seniors on the Kings blueline. Phillips, Bergeron and Jack Boles are juniors. Luke Gladu and Elijah Gosselin are sophomores.

Lupardo was 8-5-1 in the regular season and has a 1.97 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage, along with four shutouts.

“He has gotten stronger as the season has gone on,” Hutchinson said. “His rebound control has been much better than it was at the beginning of the year. He’s also seeing the puck a lot better than he was at the beginning of the year.”

This past summer, Lupardo attended the Twin City Thunder training camp. He only spent the first day at the camp but learned valuable lessons in the goalie sessions.

“It was more a mental progression coming from that. It gave me a different perspective on where I stand in my game compared to kids farther advanced and older than I am,” Lupardo said.

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