BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School Rams saw a comfortable 4-1 lead reduced to a 4-3 advantage in a matter of 54 seconds early in the third period of their Eastern Maine Class A schoolboy hockey quarterfinal against Messalonskee of Oakland Tuesday night.
And the Eagles, who had already scored three power-play goals, went back on the power play with a chance to tie it.
But senior center Noah Frost scored a shorthanded goal and the Rams went on to post a 6-3 triumph at Sawyer Arena.
Third seed Bangor, 12-6-1, will play second seed Waterville, also 12-6-1, in Saturday’s noon semifinal at The Colisee in Lewiston.
Youthful Messalonskee, with 10 freshmen and sophomores, finished 8-11. The Eagles were the sixth seed.
Bangor has won 10 of its last 12 games, while Messalonskee ended its season on a five-game losing streak. Bangor won all three meetings with the Eagles.
“[Frost’s goal] was the most important goal of the game,” said Bangor senior defenseman Devin Lyshon, who had one of four power-play goals. “They had great momentum after getting those two power-play goals, but Noah came back, tucked his shoulder and shoved it in. That was a big momentum changer for us.”
Frost took a pass from Nick George and dashed up the ice in a one-on-one with a Messalonskee defenseman.
“I had momentum going into their zone and I knew I could beat him wide. He had a good angle on me, so I threw it to the net on the backhand and it went five-hole,” said Frost, whose goal was just his second of the season. “I shot it low hoping for a rebound.”
Messalonskee sophomore goalie Nate DelGiudice, who finished with 37 saves, including 17 in the first period, said, “I don’t know what happened on that one. I thought I had the post [covered]. It went in between my pad and my skate. My stick wasn’t there.”
“That took our momentum away,” said Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse.
“I think we have seven shorthanded goals this season,” said Bangor coach Ted Taylor. “We’re more aggressive on our penalty kill now. That was a huge goal.”
Nate Lewis sewed up the win by tucking a backhander around DelGiudice off a Nick George rebound with 1:33 remaining.
Ryan King scored the first of his two goals to open the scoring at the 8:09 mark of the first period. That came on the power play as he jammed home a rebound.
“I was parked at the back door,” said King. “Our power play was great. We were getting open looks and rebounds.”
“They have a good power play. They have a lot of talent on that team, and they’ll capitalize if you give them the opportunity,” said DelGiudice.
Joey Seccareccia scored another Bangor power-play goal 5:34 later as he was positioned at the top of the crease and swept home a rebound after Nic Cota had been set up for a one-timer by Lyshon’s diagonal pass.
Travis St. Pierre cut the lead in half on a five-on-three power play by following up a scramble and shoveling a loose puck over Bangor goalie Chris Howat at the 1:42 mark.
But Lyshon answered on the power play by directing a Ryan King rebound past DelGiudice from the edge of the crease.
King’s third-period wrist shot from a tough angle deflected in off DelGiudice’s glove 2:17 into the third period. That proved to be the game-winner.
“I was coming off a long shift and we needed a line change. I saw the top [far] corner and hit it. I just wanted to get it on net so we could make a [line] change,” said Ryan King.
“I’ve got to watch it go into my glove and I didn’t,” said DelGiudice.
But St. Pierre scored with a screened shot from the midpoint and Sam Dexter converted an errant pass by Ryan King in the low slot to cut it to 4-3.
King had two assists to go with his two goals and Jacob Turmel had three assists. George had two assists.
Howat finished with 17 saves for the Rams.
Bangor went 4-for-6 on the power play and has now scored at least one power-play goal in five straight games (9-for-30).
Bangor had a sizeable edge in puck possession as the senior-laden Rams used their experience and superior strength to sustain their forecheck.
“We were able to work the puck down low and grind,” said Ryan King. “We were able to get shots and rebounds and some dirty goals.”
Latendresse said his team was flat in the first period as evidenced by Bangor’s 19-2 edge in shots on goal.
“But we battled after that,” said Latendresse. “Bangor played well. They were the better team.”
DelGiudice kept the Eagles in the game with his play over the first two periods and his teammates did a respectable job protecting the net front.
They were able to generate more chances over the final two periods thanks to their power play, but Howat made some timely saves, including a stick stop off leading scorer Sam Dexter’s breakaway in the second period with Bangor holding a 2-1 lead.
It was sophomore Howat’s first playoff start.
“He definitely made some good saves. He played well for us. We left him hung out to dry a couple times and