The Brewer High School Witches’ return to Class B after two seasons in Class A has been a rousing success.
The Witches have won 12 in a row to earn the top seed for the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs and a quarterfinal-round bye. They are 16-1-1.
Their semifinal opponent at Winslow’s Sukee Arena next Saturday will be either 12-6 Houlton-Hodgdon, the No. 4 seed, or fifth-seeded Lawrence of Fairfield, which is 10-8.
Lawrence will travel to Millar Arena in Houlton to face the Blackhawks on Monday.
Houlton-Hodgdon coach Joel Trickey said the game will be at either 4 p.m. or 5.
Defending Eastern Maine Class B champ Presque Isle, 14-4 and the third seed, will face No. 2 Winslow, 12-5-1, in the other semifinal at Sukee Arena.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Maine Class A, the Bangor Rams finished 11-6-1 and earned the third seed and a date with No. 6 Messalonskee of Oakland, 8-10, in a Tuesday quarterfinal at Sawyer Arena in Bangor.
In the other A quarterfinals Tuesday, No. 2 St. Dominic of Auburn, 10-8, and No. 5 Edward Little, 14-4, also of Auburn, will meet in Auburn and No. 7 Hall-Dale/Winthrop/Maranacook of Readfield, 9-8-1, will visit No. 2 Waterville, 11-6-1.
Lewiston, 15-2-1, is the top seed and earned a quarterfinal-round bye.
Houlton-Hodgdon coach Joel Trickey and Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn agreed that Brewer is the clear-cut favorite.
“No one has come close to beating them in B,” said Trickey.
Brewer’s only loss came to Western Maine Class A Falmouth 2-1 and the Witches’ tie, 5-5, came against rival Bangor.
“They move the puck so quickly, they’re hard to defend,” said Trickey. “They’re strong skaters and they’re physical. I don’t see any flaws in their game.”
“They have two good lines and their third line is one we’d all like to have,” said Flynn. “They have a lot of depth.”
First-year Brewer coach Dave Shedd said he has been pleased with his team’s play.
“The two areas I’ve been most impressed with is our discipline and our ability to step up, defensively, in big situations,” said Shedd. “We have six great goal scorers and great goaltending.”
Brewer has five forwards with at least 34 points in Nick Risser (24 goals, 21 assists), Tyler White (19 & 23), Alec Pacheco (17 & 23), Jacob Chapman (18 & 19) and Evan Nadeau (13 & 21).
Chris Lopez (8 & 12) has been a terrific point-producing defenseman, and Eric White has had an exceptional season between the pipes.
However, Garret Gonzales suffered a knee injury in the 10-4 win over Bangor at Alfond Arena and is doubtful for the postseason, so Brody Valley will be paired with Lopez.
Houlton-Hodgdon has beaten Lawrence twice, 5-3 and 7-4, and will head into Monday’s game led by the line of Ben Ward (21 & 12, 6 shorthanded goals) between Cody Briggs (13 & 13) and Nick Chase (10 & 11). They are all juniors, as is the second line of Dylan Gard (9 & 6), Logan Holmes (5 & 7) and Ian Gervais (3 & 9). Jake Peabody (0 & 13) and Jared Tapley (1 & 6) anchor the defense in front of goaltender Malik Abouleish.