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High school ice hockey

Camden Hills suffers first loss, to compete in 'pod' playoff tournament

Windjammers 3-1 after split of home-road games with Messalonskee of Oakland, Cony of Augusta
By Ken Waltz | Feb 19, 2021
Photo by: Ken Waltz Camden Hills' Elias Libby sends the puck down the ice against Messalonskee on Feb. 17 in high school hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. The host Windjammers beat the Eagles of Oakland 5-3.

Rockport — As it turns out, after all appeared lost early in the winter, the Camden Hills ice hockey team will get the opportunity to play for a "championship" in 2020-21.

After starting the pandemic-altered campaign with the understanding it would play only intrasquad games, then finding out it could compete in a limited number of "official" regular-season games against other opponents, the Windjammers were happy campers.

Well, their delight has increased exponentially with the latest news.

While the team will not get the opportunity to play for regional and state titles as they have in the past, Camden Hills will have the chance to play for a "pod" championship in March.

That again is positive news for the talented Windjammers as home ice and strong overall play has been a winning combination for the team early in the campaign.

The Windjammers improved to 3-0 with a 5-3, penalty-marred victory over Messalonskee of Oakland on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Midcoast Recereation Center.

Watch video and see more photos below.

Click to watch livestream of first period.

Click to watch livestream of second period.

Camden Hills played its first three games on home ice and hit the road for the first time on Thursday, Feb. 18 when it lost to inspired Cony of Augusta 4-2 at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell (see information below).

Additionally, Camden Hills also will play in a six-team "pod" tournament the first two weeks of March, with the championship game on Friday, March 12. The teams will include Windjammer regular-season opponents Messalonskee Eagles, Cony Rams, Waterville-Winslow (Kennebec Riverhawks), Capital Region Hawks and Gardiner Tigers.

Camden Hills coach John Magri said the way the "Capital Area Pod" playoffs will work starts with two divisions. The West includes Messalonskee, Gardiner and Capital Region Hawks and East includes Cony, Riverhawks and Camden Hills

Each team plays others in their division once. There are no ties. There will be three-on-three overtime periods and shootouts if necessary. The team with the most points in each division play in the championship game. All games are at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell.

The schedule includes: Thursday, March 4, 4 p.m., CR Hawks versus Gardiner; Saturday, March 6, 4 p.m., Cony versus Riverhawks, and 6 p.m., CR Hawks versus Messalonskee; Monday, March 8, 6 p.m., Cony versus Camden Hills, and 8 p.m., Gardiner versus Messalonskee; Wednesday, March 10, 4 p.m., Camden Hills versus Riverhawks; and Friday, March 12, 4 p.m., championship, East winner versus West winner.

On Wednesday night at MRC Camden Hills outlasted Messalonskee, after building a 4-0 lead, with several goals in shorthanded situations. The squads played two 23-minute periods.

For the Windjammers, Jakob Johnson scored two goals and Cam Brown, Levi Guay and Charlie Griebel one, while Rory Carlson, Owen McManus and Guay added assists.

Jack Hammond tallied two goals for the Eagles, while Bryce Crowell added one.

Between the pipes for the Windjammers, Will Gardner stopped 27-of-30 shots for a .900 save percentage, while Mitchell Grant had 27 saves on 31 shots (.870 save percentage) for Messalonskee.

In the first period, Brown scored shorthanded at 19:12 and Guay followed suit with 18:09 left. Johnson netted a goal on a power play at 9:55, while Griebel added a goal, from Carlson and Guay, at 9:22 to make it 4-0 for the hosts.

Messalonskee broke the scoring ice at 5:22 when Jack Hammond scored, off a Myles Hammond assist, on the power play.

In the second period, the visitors made things interesting with two power-play goals, as Crowell scored, off Myles Hammond's assist, at 5:42 and Jack Hammond, from Myles Hammond and Jacob Thomas, at 3:22.

Johnson tallied an empty-net goal, on McManus' assist, with 14 seconds left for an insurance score for Camden Hills.

Magri said Wednesday's game was important because Messalonskee was one of only two foes last season the Windjammers could not beat and was the opponent that forced an upset to end Camden Hills' playoff run.

"The Windjammers really wanted to take this game," the coach said. "We started out with complete zone domination, spending all of the opening minutes in the Messalonskee end of the ice."

However, he added four minutes into the game "we incurred the first of what would be a laundry list of penalties, but we were able to make lemonade from lemons as we netted two shorthanded goals. The first was a forced breakaway by Cam Brown in which he closed with a move on the goalie and a shot that was all net. Less than a minute later Levi Guay was on the penalty kill and snapped a shot from an impossible angle which roofed the net and gave Camden Hills its second shorthanded goal.

"A little over the halfway mark of the period Camden Hills was on a power play and defenseman Jakob Johnson blasted a heavy slap shot over the blocker side shoulder of the Messalonskee goaltender … Thirty seconds later the line of Griebel, Guay and Carlson cycled the puck around in the Messalonskee end until Griebel put the puck home. With seven minutes left in the period and Camden up four goals, Messalonskee took advantage of a power play and put a puck home to make the score 4-1."

The coach said in the second period penalties for the hosts were a constant factor. "We felt the leash around our neck pretty tight, but we simply had to deal with the adversity and bring the game home through hard work. "

With five minutes left, Messalonskee netted a power-play goal and two minutes later put in another power-play goal. With three minutes left, Camden Hills had to kill penalties and fight off a six-player offense in order to bring the game home "and that is exactly what they did.

"The coaches were proud of the effort put forth by the team. When you are dealt 33 minutes of penalties in a 46-minute game, many of which created five-on-three situations, and you can come out on top of the opposing team, and only give up three goals, you know the work ethic is there."

Cony game

The host Rams built a 4-0 lead and staved off the Windjammers late for a 4-2 victory on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 18.

Windjammer coach Magri said "there has been something of a rivalry or possibly animosity surrounding Cony-Camden Hills hockey games that has built over the last three years. Every time Camden [Hills] has faced Cony in the last few years, Camden [Hills] has won by a margin of seven goals or more in contests that have been rife with physical play and elevated fan reactions to the game."

Thus, Magri said he gives Cony credit as the Rams "came into this game with a fire and desire to take back the past and somehow topple Camden Hills. On the ice and on their bench, from every player to the coaches, it was as if they were playing for the state championship and it paid dividends."

Magri said, on the other hand, "from goalie crease to the front line [the Windjammers] played the worst, most uninspired hockey game I have seen from this group during my tenure as coach. With the exception of Cam Brown, who sat the bench with a lower body injury from the Messalonskee game, and junior Camden Powell, whose play was inspirational for the entire 46 minutes of the game, the entire team phoned in a disappointing performance."

Griebel scored in the first period and Johnson in the second, both unassisted, for the Windjammers. Jackson Bernier played in the net for Camden Hills.

"I could go down the list of possible contributing factors, such as our first away game during the COVID season with all the protocols that entails, the fact that we played two games 16 hours apart, or missing two players due to injury, but, frankly, I think we just turned in a dud of a performance that may have been well-placed to inject some humble pie into a team that came into this game undefeated," Magri said.

With 18 seconds left in the first period, and the Windjammers trailing 4-0, Griebel scored off a long feed from a defensive-end stretch pass that resulted in a breakaway.

Toward the end of the second period, Johnson carried the puck deep from the blue line and stick-handled around three defenders and scored.

"We never pulled together as a team or changed the tides much in the game, we simply benefited from two singular efforts that put two pucks past the Cony goalie," Magri said.

The coach added, "No one was using their speed, we did not present as a well-conditioned team, the younger players that have been exceptional to date were playing apprehensive, the veteran players were playing with no hockey sense whatsoever and, frankly, credit to Cony. On paper they were outclassed, but on the ice they wanted it more, believed they could win, and invested more in the outcome than Camden Hills and came up big with an upset win of 4-2 that they have wanted for over two years. That’s hockey."

Messalonskee at Camden Hills ice hockey
Camden Hills hosts Messalonskee on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Video by: Ken Waltz and Zack Miller)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
Scene from Messalonskee at Camden Hills on Feb. 17 in high school ice hockey at the Midcoast Recreation Center in Rockport. (Photo by: Ken Waltz)
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