The Brewer High School hockey team won the State Class B championship two years ago before returning to Class A last year and losing to Waterville in the semifinals.
Brewer will return to Class B next season but the Witches would love to make a statement in the Class A playoffs beginning tonight when they entertain Lawrence of Fairfield in the Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinals at the Penobscot Ice Arena. Game time is 7:30.
Brewer, 14-3-1, is the second seed while 10-8 Lawrence is the seventh seed.
Bangor, the fourth seed with a 13-5 record, will entertain No. 5 Cony of Augusta, 10-8, on Wednesday at 6:30 at the Sawyer Arena. Bangor was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Waterville last season, 4-1.
In the other quarterfinals, No. 8 Brunswick, 10-9, travels to play top seed Waterville, 17-1, and No. 6 Gray New Gloucester-Poland, 13-4-1, visits No. 3 Lewiston, 11-6-1.
In Eastern Maine Class B, arch-rivals Presque Isle and Houlton-Hodgdon will square off in a quarterfinal tonight at 6 at the Northern Maine Forum in Presque Isle. Presque Isle is 8-7-3 and the fourth seed while Houlton-Hodgdon is the fifth seed with a 7-10-1 record.
They were supposed to play on Monday but it was pushed back by the snowstorm.
The winner will face top seed John Bapst of Bangor, 16-2, in the semifinals on Saturday.
Brewer coach Bill Schwarz and his Witches have mixed emotions about moving down to Class B next season.
“I think it’s a good move for us,” said Schwarz. “We’re losing a lot of talent but we should be able to do well there next year. We should be very competitive.”
“I’m not big on the idea,” said junior defenseman Chris Lopez. “I like Class A. There’s better competition.
“Don’t get me wrong, Class B has some real good teams. But the competition, overall, is better in A,” added Lopez.
Sophomore center Evan Nadeau said, “I like the competition in both. We’ll do our best and see what happens. I think we’ll do all right. We’ve got some good talent coming in and some good players returning.”
But, for now, the Witches have their sights set on Lawrence.
“They have a quick team and a couple of forwards who can get exploit our defense every once in a while,” said junior goalie Eric White, who has had a terrific season with a 13-3-1 record, a 1.58 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
“Our defense has played pretty well all year and I feel more confident than I did last year. Last year was my first real high school experience and, this year, I’ve played in some big-time games and proven what I can do,” said White.
Schwarz said White is “much better” this season.
“He controls his rebounds better, deflects pucks into the corners and I haven’t seen another goalie who can play the puck and shoot it the way he can. He’s like another defenseman,” said Schwarz.
Brewer continues to be led by Eastern Maine A Player of the Year Dylan Fitzpatrick (26 goals, 21 assists), Ryan Nadeau (18 & 18), Nick Risser (14 & 10), Steve Farley (3 & 16) and Evan Nadeau (3 & 12) along with defensemen Lopez (3 & 11), Matt Helfen (3 & 7) and Andy Bush (4 & 5). Risser will miss tonight’s game due to a skate-inflicted cut on his foot.
Anthony Boudreau (17 & 12), Devon Belanger (17 & 9), Matthew Woodbury (12 & 9) and Jeshua Dearborn (10 & 6) pace Lawrence along with defensemen Brock Lawrence (2 & 11) and J.J. Hutchinson (3 & 7) and goalie Chris Caron (10-8, 3.45, .868). Brewer won both meetings 6-1, 10-1.
Bangor coach Ted Taylor has a balanced Ram team that has 12 players with 10 or more points.
“I love it,” said Taylor referring to his scoring depth. “It would be nice to have a 26-goal scorer like Fitzpatrick but I’ll take what I have.”
Bangor beat Cony 9-3 in their only meeting.
“We’ve got to tighten up our defense and try to dominate in the offensive end. Hopefully, we’ll do well in time of possession [in the offensive zone],” Taylor said.
Senior center Johnny Warren (14 & 11) leads the Ram forwards along with Darren Casey-Covell (15 & 6), Nic Cota (8 & 10), Cody McInnis (6 & 9), David Pardilla (7 & 8) and Joey Seccareccia (8 & 6). Chad Kelley (3 & 11), Adam King (1 & 10) and Nick George (4 & 6) anchor the defense in front of goalie Zach Hamilton (12-4, 2.25, .906).
Cony features Josh Zayac (15 & 10), Ben Hubert (12 & 10), Brandon Clark (6 & 9), Luke Duncklee (4 & 9) and Garrett Lucas (4 & 9) along with defensemen Derek Brotherton (5 & 3) and Chris Logan (1 & 8).
Jon Dale (5-4, 2.63, .876) and Matt Swan (5-4, 3.43, .852) have split the goaltending.