Thornton Academy makes strong statement for Class A hockey state-title defense

BIDDEFORD – Is two games too few? Or is it a large enough sample size with which to properly peg the strength of defending Class A hockey champions, Thornton Academy.
If you saw how handily the Golden Trojans dispatched their first two opponents (5-1) and Lewiston (4-1), you’d arrive at this conclusion.
These guys are good.
Really, really good.
Any doubts to that effect vanished Wednesday night, when Thornton took the Blue Devils’ best shots and barely buckled.
Lewiston, you’ll remember, took the Trojans to double-overtime in the title game last March before C.J. Maksut struck the decisive blow.
And, although the Blue Devils lost nearly a dozen key seniors – including their goalie, Travis Roy Award finalist Cam Poussard – most observers consider Lewiston a strong candidate to make it through the East again this year.
Still, Thornton’s forward depth – all three lines picked up points against Lewiston – was too much to overcome.
“Given who we played,” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau, “I feel okay about the game. Did we play as well as I wanted? No. Did I play as bad as I thought we could have? No. We played a pretty decent game. We made a (few) too many mistakes, and they capitalized on them.”
Rob Downing, Bryan Dallaire (a transfer from Biddeford), Nick Chen, Andrew Carignan, Greg Lodge, et al.
All but Dallaire, played key roles in last year’s championship run, as did massive defenseman Tyler Danley and stand out goalie Joe Ferrante.
All of the above have made life miserable for Thornton’s first two opponents.
In fact, the one key newbie is head coach Jamie Gagnon, who directed Biddeford to two state titles and assisted on a third.
Yet, the straw the stirs the drink (as that astute hockey observer, Reggie Jackson, put it), is Maksut, the speedy winger who reached the 100 point career mark (63 goals, 37 assists) with his two goals against Lewiston.
Maksut, who spurned the opportunity to play junior for a chance at a second straight state title, may be the best high schooler in Maine.
Even so, he deflects all credit to others, and keeps a respectful lid on his “Century Club” achievement.
“It’s cool,” said Maksut. “But I’ve had some great players around me. That helps make it easier for me.
“I want to play all around as a team player,” said Maksut. “But I want to contribute to the offense as much as possible. I feel like I can be a part of that.”
So what do the Trojans know about themselves after having already handled two of the few legitimate contenders for their crown?
“For them (the Blue Devils) this was a revenge game,” said Downing, following the Lewiston game. “But for us, this was a game to show we were a dominant team. To show we can compete with anyone, and show who we really are as a team.”
After just two games, it would be hard to argue with that.