It is always difficult to beat a team three times in a season.
But that is what the third-seeded Bangor Rams will attempt to do tonight at Sawyer Arena when they entertain the sixth-seeded Messalonskee Eagles from Oakland in their Eastern Maine Class A schoolboy hockey quarterfinal.
Game time is 6:30.
The Rams beat the Eagles 3-0 on Jan. 6 at Sukee Arena in Winslow, outshooting them 47-10. They posted a 7-2 victory over them last week despite falling behind 2-1.
Bangor has won 10 of its last 12 games including a 2-0 triumph over top seed Lewiston in Waterville last Saturday in the KVAC championship game.
The game doesn’t count on their records but the Rams hope to use that victory to fuel a playoff run.
“We played great against Lewiston,” said Bangor senior left wing Ryan King. “We want to carry that momentum into the playoffs.”
The Rams have no intention of taking the Eagles lightly despite their dominance during the regular season and the fact Messalonskee enters the game with a four-game losing streak.
“They have a great goalie in Nate DelGiudice. He’s one of the best goalies around,” said Bangor sophomore left wing Nic Cota.
“We need to pepper him with shots,” said King. “We don’t want to let them stay [close] in the game. We want to get off to a strong start and play solid defense. You don’t want to have to fight back [from behind] against a good goalie.”
“They’ll come out hard and we need to come out hard, too,” said Bangor junior center Joey Seccareccia.
Bangor sophomore goalie Chris Howat will be making his playoff debut.
“I’m excited. It should be fun,” said Howat, who took over from senior Zach Hamilton when Hamilton left the team for personal reasons.
Hamilton led the Rams to a berth in the semifinals a year ago.
Howat has held teams to one goal or less in five of his last seven starts, including the Lewiston exhibition (KVAC final). He is 7-3-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage.
His only poor outing was in the 10-4 loss to archrival Brewer in the Fill the Alfond game at Alfond Arena.
“The crowd really affected me,” said Howat referring to the estimated 2,500 that showed up for the game.
He added that since that Brewer loss, “I’ve been working a lot harder with our goalie coach [Justin Climo].”
“He’s been doing a great job,” said Seccareccia.
Howat said he has been focusing on “staying on the post a little longer.”
He also said he and his teammates will be ready for the challenge.
“We aren’t going to take them lightly. We’ll be confident but not overconfident,” said Howat. “We expect them to play a great game and we expect to play a great game as well.”
Bangor will be led by senior defenseman Nick George, who has 5 goals and 21 assists.
Phil Frost (16 & 8), Seccareccia (12 & 9), defenseman Devon Lyshon (5 & 10), Cota (4 & 10), Jacob Turmel (7 & 7) and King (11 & 2) have paced the Rams.
The Eagles, coached by former University of Maine star Mike Latendresse, feature Sam Dexter (15 & 18), Cam Berard (11 & 9) and defenseman Travis St. Pierre (4 & 15) along with Chris DelGiudice (6 & 12) and defenseman Nate Snow (1 & 7).
Nate DelGiudice is 8-9 with a 2.45 goals-against average and an impressive .923 save percentage.