Several of them will remove their helmets, lean on their hockey sticks and chat about the game and a rivalry that dates back a dozen years.
That exchange will occur following tonight’s Fill the Alfond schoolboy hockey game between archrivals Bangor High School and Brewer at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.
For nine Bangor seniors and seven Brewer seniors, their extensive on-ice rivalry will conclude because they are in different classes this season.
Adding to the game is the fact they happen to be two of the state’s hottest teams.
The Class A Rams, who are 9-5-1, have won seven of their last eight games. The Class B Witches, who are 13-1-1, have won nine straight.
Brewer is a virtual lock to be the top seed in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal Points standings while Bangor is fourth in Eastern A but within striking distance of second.
A Bangor win would be extremely pointworthy.
“We want to finish as high as we can,” said Bangor sophomore left wing Nic Cota.
Bangor won the previous two games at Alfond Arena in 2004 and 2005, but Brewer’s seniors have gone 5-1-1 against the Bangor seniors in their four years.
The teams battled to a thrilling 5-5 overtime tie on Dec. 22 at Bangor’s Sawyer Arena.
“It’s going to be special to play Brewer where the [University of Maine] Black Bears play,” said Cota. “Everyone is talking about it. It’s such a big opportunity. It would be nice if they did it every year.”
“I remember watching the first one. It was fun,” said Bangor senior center Nate Lewis, referring to Bangor’s 6-1 win on Feb. 17, 2004. “I can’t wait to play in it. There will be a ton of fans on each side.”
A crowd of 1,675 turned out for the inaugural Fill the Alfond game and, on Jan. 1, 2005, 1,529 showed up to see the Rams win the second one 3-1.
“There will be a lot more room and a lot more people. The whole atmosphere adds more amp to the game,” said Brewer senior defenseman Chris Lopez.
“I think there will be a lot of emotion,” added Lopez. “I know a lot of their kids.”
However, he noted that their friendships will take a back seat when the game begins.
“It will be us against them,” said Lopez.
“It’s going to be a big deal,” said Brewer senior center Nick Risser.
Brewer was in Class A the previous two seasons and both teams reached the semifinals, but they never got to face each other in the postseason.
“For me and a lot of the seniors, this gives us a chance to show we still belong in A and can still compete at the top level,” said Lopez.
Brewer senior goalie Eric White said it will serve as a good tuneup for the playoffs.
“We haven’t had many competitive games lately. This will be a good test for us,” he said.
“Beating a good team like Bangor would give us confidence,” said Brewer coach Dave Shedd.
The 5-5 tie left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Witches since they squandered a pair of three-goal leads and saw Lewis tie it with 35.8 seconds left in regulation.
“It wasn’t the best feeling,” said Risser.
Bangor senior defenseman Nick George said the Rams can’t afford to fall behind 3-0 in the first period like they did in that game.
“We’ve been trying to fix that lately,” said George, referring to dismal first periods that haunted them early in the season. “Hopefully, it will go better this time around.”
“We have to come out harder than we did in that game,” said Ram junior center Joey Seccareccia.
White said, “We’ve got to take care of the puck in the defensive zone and play in their end as much as we can.”
The Witches feature two prolific lines, an inexperienced but vastly improved defense corps anchored by the talented Lopez (8 goals, 8 assists) and a stellar netminder in White (5 shutouts).
Bangor has good balance up front, a solid defense corps led by the dynamic George (4 & 18) and an impressive young goalie in sophomore Chris Howat (5-2-1, 1.75 goals-against average, .902 save percentage).
Risser (19 goals, 19 assists) centers the Witches’ top line between Alec Pacheco (15 & 19) and Jamie Williamson (5 & 1) and Evan Nadeau (10 & 20) centers the second line between Tyler White (17 & 20) and Jacob Chapman (16 & 18).
Bangor’s top two lines feature Seccareccia (8 & 8) between Cota (4 & 7) and Phil Frost (13 & 6) and Lewis (1 & 7) between Jacob Turmel (3 & 6) and Ryan King (9 & 1).
Devon Lyshon (5 & 7) supplies the Rams with another point-producing defenseman.