Caseys lead No. 1 Bapst against No. 4 Wildcats

Posted Feb. 27, 2009, at 9:32 p.m.

You could call them the Caseys. One’s first name is Casey and the other’s last name is Casey.

Casey Hull and Andrew Casey are “inseparable” in the words of John Bapst High School hockey coach Gene Fadrigon.

Not surprisingly, they have amassed the same number of points in leading the Crusaders to their first-ever top seed in the Eastern Maine Class B hockey tournament and a berth against No. 4 Presque Isle in tonight’s 5 p.m. semifinal at Sukee Arena in Winslow. John Bapst is 16-2 with one of the two losses coming at the hands of the 9-7-3 Wildcats.

In the other semifinal, No. 2 Gardiner (14-4) meets No. 3 Winslow (9-8-1) at 8.

The Eastern Maine Class A tournament will also continue today at the Colisee in Lewiston with top seed Waterville (18-1) facing No. 4 Bangor (14-5) in the noon semifinal and No. 2 Brewer (15-3-1) taking on the host and third-seeded Lewiston Blue Devils (12-6-1) at 2:30.

Hull and Casey have been teammates in soccer and baseball as well as hockey, but they are quick to point out that hockey is first and foremost.

“Hockey is our passion,” said Casey.

They have been pleased with their seasons to date.

“At the beginning of the year, [assistant] coach [Matt] Stairs talked about us going 16-2. That’s what we shot for, and that’s what we ended up doing,” said Casey. “Our whole team play [has been a key]. We have a lot of guys producing offensively, we don’t have just one goal scorer. Our defense has been standing up great and we have one of the top goalies in the state [Derek Duff] who has kept us in games.”

“Coming into the year, this is all we thought about and we worked hard to get here,” said Hull. “We’ve lived up to expectations [so far]. But we can play better. We can play harder. Playoff hockey is always different. There’s a lot more to it.”

Hull and Casey center John Bapst’s top two lines. Hull has 13 goals and 15 assists and Casey has 15 & 13.

“My stats aren’t as good as they’ve been in previous years, but it doesn’t matter because we’re winning. I’m playing harder than I ever have,” said Hull.

Casey has been slowed by a knee injury suffered during soccer season. A knee injury had sidelined him for his sophomore year.

“Last year was a rebuilding year for me and I tore my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] in soccer, which was pretty unlucky,” said Casey. “But this has been one of my best years. I’ve been hitting people with passes and relying on the guys to score.”

“They are both focused in what they do and I never have to worry about them being fired up. They’re always fired up,” said Fadrigon. “In fact, now and then, I have to make sure they’re not too fired up. They’re great competitors. They have to lose, but they’re gentlemen about it [if they do lose]. I never have to worry about them giving me 100 percent.

“Casey has blazing speed and Andrew would have if he hadn’t had the little setback with the knee. But Andrew has a knack for the net. Casey has great stickhandling ability and an unbelievable wrist shot.”

Fadrigon and the Caseys know Presque Isle will be a formidable opponent.

Dylan Collins and Brennen Shaw have each eclipsed the 100-point mark for their careers at Presque Isle. Shaw has more than 40 points this season and Collins had tallied more than 30.

“They’re always competitive. They always give us problems,” said Hull.

“Collins and Shaw can create a lot of havoc around the net. We’re going to have to play our A game,” said Fadrigon. “[PI coach] Carl Flynn has done a great job with them.”

But the Crusaders have a lot of balance with Nikki Mitchell (11 & 14) and Ethan Sale (5 & 12) complementing the Caseys along with defensemen Chase Huckestein (8 & 12) and Tyler Fadrigon (6 & 10), Gene’s grandson.

In the Class A matchups, Bangor will try to end Waterville’s 17-game winning streak and avenge last year’s 4-1 quarterfinal loss.

Bangor is led by Johnny Warren (14 & 12), Darren Casey-Covell (16 & 8) and Nic Cota (9 & 11) along with defensemen Chad Kelley (4 & 8) and Adam King (2 & 10) and goalie Zach Hamilton (13-4, 2.23 goals-against average, .904 save percentage). Waterville features Ian Rowe (17 & 22), Eric Aldrich (19 & 20) and Nick Deblois (7 & 28) along with defenseman Shawn Lee (13 & 17) and goalie Nolan MacDonnell (18-1, 0.96, .937).

Waterville beat Bangor 4-0 and 3-2 in overtime during the regular season.

Brewer, with a 2-2 tie and 3-0 win over Lewiston, has been led by Dylan Fitzpatrick (27 & 24), Ryan Nadeau (21 & 19) and Nick Risser (14 & 10) along with defensemen Chris Lopez (3 & 12) and Andy Bush (4 & 6) and goalie Eric White (14-3, 1.60, 928).

Fitzpatrick was the subject of an Internet hoax alleging he was involved in a serious snowmobile accident Friday night, but in a call to his home, Fitzpatrick said he hadn’t been in an accident and he is fine.

Risser will return to the lineup after missing the 7-2 quarterfinal win over Lawrence of Fairfield with a skate cut on his foot.

Lewiston is led by Robbie Leeman (11 & 16), Ben Wigant (14 & 10) and Sam Cloutier (10 & 10) along with defensemen Devin McClellan (2 & 6) and Jake Brown (1 & 5) and goalie Cam Poussard (9-6-1, 1.69, .928).

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