Apr. 10—With ice availability limited this past summer because of the coronavirus, Edward Little's Wesley Clements decided to get better by getting stronger.
Boys Hockey Finalists
— , senior, Lewiston
— , junior, Lewiston
— , senior, Edward Little
— , senior, St. Dominic Academy
— , senior, Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale
The time Clements put in the gym helped him have a junior season with nine goals and eight assists in 10 games played. That production and his importance to the Red Eddies is why Clements has been named the Sun Journal All-Region Boys Hockey Player of the Year.
"Over the (summer) I worked out at my house and another big factor was just (having a growth spurt) and I gained more muscle weight," Clements said. "It also helped with my shot."
Clements said his growth spurt and working out helped him elude defenders and create extra space for himself out on the ice.
Edward Little coach Norm Gagne felt the work Clements put in paid off.
"He got a little stronger this year and it really showed to fend off the opposition going to the net," Gagne said. "It really helped him and winning one-on-one battles. When he got loose in the offensive zone; he was able to do that this year because of his strength and size. He grew a couple of inches over the summer."
Physical development from sophomore to junior years is something Gagne has seen plenty of times in his 40-plus-year high school coaching career. Gagne also said Clements used his stick skills like deking and faking out defenders en route to scoring goals.
Clements' hockey IQ also grew this year. His hockey smarts really started to come along at the end of the 2019-20 season, when the Red Eddies reached the Class A semifinals.
"Last year at the very end of the season, I started to (have more responsibilities) and it carried over to this year," Clements said. "I really remember that from last year and I really picked up on it."
This year, Clements' confidence grew as Gagne gave him more of a leash and having the same linemates, Jack Keefe and Aidan Gonzalez, the entire season.
"This year he put me on the first line right from the beginning (of the season) and didn't change it," Clements said. "Even if I didn't do well in one game, it didn't change because he knew it was probably an off game and I would probably get right back in it in the next game."
Clements learned to use Keefe and Gonzalez this season to help make the Red Eddies top line successful. Keefe had six goals and five assists and Gonzalez had two goals and four assists.
"As the season went on, he started to use his linemates a little bit better and they used him, too, and helping him," Gagne said. "He would feed them the puck and get himself open. He's playing with two guys who are unselfish players that will get him the puck. They started to really jell as the season went on. They were getting better as a line because they started using each other. It really paid off big in some of our games."
Gagne did double-shift Clements a few times this season in key situations, especially when it came to faceoffs because of Clements' strength.
While Clements was able to work out last summer and get better shooting the puck, the lack of ice time prior to the season affected improving his skating ability.
"I am definitely going to work on that more this summer because (with the coronavirus), I didn't play for a while," Clements said. "I felt a little slower than normal, but by the end of the season I felt like I was at my potential again."