WINSLOW — Even before the puck was dropped to start Saturday night’s Eastern Maine Class B semifinal game at Sukee Arena, Lawrence of Fairfield coach Dave Richard was fretting over how his team could offset top-ranked Brewer’s three greatest assets.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in Class A or B who has the kind of speed Brewer has,” said Richard. “They’re also a big team, so trying to play them physically doesn’t help you much either. And they’re deep.
That depth was apparent as freshman third-line forward Spencer Valley had a hat trick to help lead the Witches to a thoroughly dominating 10-2 victory over the No. 5 Bulldogs.
“They’re three lines deep and we noticed fairly soon they not only run three lines, they plug other offensive players into those lines,” Richard said. “Most teams, especially ‘B,’ are running two lines, so to see that kind of depth is unheard of.”
The 17-1-1 Witches showcased all three strengths to move on and play No. 3 Presque Isle (15-4) in a 7 p.m. regional final at Alfond Arena in Orono Tuesday. The Wildcats edged No. 2 Winslow 3-2 in the earlier semifinal at Sukee.
The Witches have now scored seven or more goals 11 times this season and 10 or more six times.
“What makes our offense go is unselfishness,” said Brewer coach David Shedd. “We had a third-line skater get a hat trick today and that shows the depth we have. Typically our second line is higher scoring.”
Lawrence matched Brewer goal for goal early on as the game was tied 2-2 eight minutes in, but the Witches came out of the opening period with a 4-2 lead after Valley scored an unassisted goal on a breakout down the right side and a shot from the right circle with 5:38 left. Jacob Chapman, a right wing on Brewer’s second line, then scored on an Evan Nadeau assist off a rebound of his own saved shot into the net’s left corner with 2:33 left.
“Had we come into the locker room even after one, it would have given us a boost,” said Richard. “When they got their fifth goal, it really took the wind out of our sails.
That goal came off the stick of senior right wing Nick Risser, who took a pass from center Alec Pacheco, who led a rush up the left side 3½ minutes into the third and passed back to Risser trailing directly behind. Risser slapped it in and Lawrence goalie Brad MacKenzie caught it, but couldn’t secure the puck before it trickled in through his pads.
Risser would score seven minutes later and finish with two goals and two assists. Right wing Jacob Chapman also scored two goals and assisted on another. Center Nadeau and Pacheco each had a goal and two assists, and left wing Jamie Williamson had a goal and an assist.
“Every line we have is capable of putting the puck in the net,” said Valley. “They were coming back in the first, so to be up by two after was big. It gave us momentum we needed to score five in the second.”
Brewer senior goalie Eric White saved 18 of 20 shots.
“He’s the nucleus of the team, not just with his defense but his passing as well,” said Shedd. “We label him Joe Cool because he’s so cool and calm.”
White’s counterpart for the Bulldogs, sophomore Brad MacKenzie, finished with 36 saves on 46 shots.
Junior defenseman Matt Woodbury led 11-9 Lawrence with two goals, one unassisted. Robert Banks had an assist.
In Saturday’s early game, Brennen Shaw made his 98th career goal a game-winner, scoring with 11:11 to play in the third period off a Zac Campbell assist and provide the winning margin for Presque Isle.
Shaw also had an assist on the first goal, scored by Steve Ford with 20 seconds left in the first period. Caleb Buck put the Wildcats up 2-1 five minutes into the third via assists from Campbell and Ford.
Josh MacFarline made 28 saves on 30 shots for the Wildcats and Jason Martin chipped in with an assist.
For 12-7-1 Winslow, Eric Willette and Todd Braw scored goals off assists from Dalton Thompson and Chalie Kriegel, respectively. Jesse Little saved 32 of 35 shots.