The Greely of Cumberland ice hockey team was still having pictures taken in the aftermath of Saturday’s Class B state championship game, and already the Presque Isle Wildcats were looking forward to the future.
“I’m happy that I’m a junior right now because we can come back next year and redeem ourselves from this loss,” said Presque Isle center Brennen Shaw after Greely’s 5-1 win over the Wildcats at the Colisee in Lewiston. “I was looking at [Greely] during the awards ceremony and just thought, ‘I really want to do that next year.’ We’ll see.”
While Presque Isle was outmatched by a talented Greely squad that capped off a 20-1 season with its first-ever state title, the Wildcats gained considerable confidence during its 7-2-1 run that produced the program’s first Eastern Maine Class B crown en route to the state final.
That surge began immediately after back-to-back losses to Cape Elizabeth and Greely during a southern Maine swing in mid-January — with the Greely loss by an overwhelming 10-1 count.
Presque Isle was much more competitive in the rematch, thanks in large part to a 47-save performance by sophomore goalie Josh MacFarline.
“The reality is those guys beat us 10-1 earlier in the season,” said Presque Isle coach Dr. Carl Flynn. “We knew we were outmatched in a lot of different ways. We had a game plan to try to neutralize some of their other strengths and we did to some extent, but the bottom line is I think that today we are the second best conditioned and fastest team in the state.”
The Wildcats are hopeful their late-season success this winter will help them next season, when they will begin play as one of the favorites in Eastern B.
“We weren’t thinking we were going to make it this far, and that next year was supposed to be a good year for us, so hopefully this will carry into next year,” said MacFarline. “That would be nice.”
Just three seniors will graduate from this year’s team: senior forwards Dylan Collins — a career 100-point scorer — Josh Buck and Mark Carvell.
The returning offense will be led by Shaw, this year’s leading scorer with 30 goals and 30 assists and also a 100-point career scorer, along with fellow forwards Mitchell Davis, Isaac LaJoie, Zac Campbell, Connor Shaw and Caleb Buck.
The defense will return intact led by Jason Martin and Steve Ford along with Mitchell Sperry and Jacob Buck.
MacFarline, who took over fulltime goaltending duties late in the season, made 113 saves on 124 shots during the regional tournament and state final.
“When we went to get our trophy, the presenter said, ‘We’ll probably see you back here next year,’” said Flynn. “I hope that is true, and as Greely was getting its awards I walked around behind all the players and I said ‘Boys, remember this feeling right now and remember it next year so hopefully we can use this to stand on the other blue line a year from now.’”
MacFarline shines for Wildcats
While much of the talk after Greely’s 5-1 win over Presque Isle in Saturday’s Class B hockey state final concerned the Rangers’ overall talent and depth, a close second on the conversation meter was Josh MacFarline’s stellar play in goal for Presque Isle.
The 5-foot-6 sophomore, who made 66 saves in three Eastern Maine tournament games to lead the Wildcats to their first regional title, came up even bigger in the state championship game.
He made 15 saves in each of the first two periods to help keep Presque Isle within 4-1, then made 17 saves during the third period to finish with 47 saves on 52 shots.
“Their goaltender certainly played a tremendous game,” said Greely coach Barry Mothes. “No disrespect to Presque Isle at all because they competed hard, but I feel like we could have had several more goals today and I think anybody that was here would confirm that. We had some great chances, but [MacFarline] really made some great stops. He played a tremendous game.”
Making MacFarline’s performance all the more impressive was the fact that he had battled illness throughout the week, but he refused to give in to the related fatigue.
“I put him on antibiotics at midweek,” said Presque Isle coach Dr. Carl Flynn, a family doctor by occupation. “He’s been sick, he had a fever in the Eastern Maine final, but we were able to bring it down before the game.
“He still wasn’t feeling his best [Saturday], but he played his best. He was very good.”
Top foul shooters to compete
Saturday’s Maine McDonald’s all-star game activities will commence with the state free-throw shooting championships, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at Newman Gymnasium on the campus of Husson University in Bangor.
Four boys and four girls will vie for the title of the state’s top high school free-throw shooters, based on winning regional shoot-offs earlier this winter.
Boys finalists are North division qualifier Matt Till of Caribou (40 of 50 in regional competition), East winner Justin Artus of Penquis Valley of Milo (45 of 50), Central winner Cameron Mitchell of Waterville (39 of 50), and South qualifier Kyle Randall of Cheverus of Portland (45 of 50).
Girls finalists are North qualifier Emily Pelletier of Fort Kent (44 of 50), East winner Adriana Eurich of Stearns of Millinocket (45 of 50), Central champion Kenni Norton of Mount Abram of Salem (44 of 50) and South winner Mariam Qazi of Waynflete of Portland (46 of 50).
The 3-point contest will be followed by four all-star games, as well as a slam dunk contest and a 3-point shooting contest.
The boys C-D contest begins at 9:15 a.m., with the boys A-B game at 11 a.m., just after the slam dunk contest between games.
The afternoon session begins with the girls A-B game at 12:45 p.m., with the girls C-D game to start at 2:30 just after the 3-point contest.