The Presque Isle High School Wildcats have been the upset kings of Eastern Maine Class B hockey over the last four years.
It began in 2007 with their 4-2 victory over a top-seeded Orono High team that was 17-2-1 and had won 17 of its last 18 games.
Last season, they upset another No. 1 seed, 16-2 John Bapst of Bangor, and then knocked off third seed Winslow en route to their first Eastern Maine Class B hockey championship.
But Wildcats senior center and leading scorer Brennen Shaw said a win tonight over Brewer in their EM Class B championship game at Alfond Arena “would definitely be the biggest upset of them all if we pull it off.”
The Witches and Wildcats get under way at 7 p.m.
Top seed Brewer is 17-1-1 and has won 13 in a row, including a 10-4 victory over Class A semifinalist and archrival Bangor and a 10-2 triumph over Lawrence of Fairfield in their B semifinal.
Defending champ Presque Isle, 15-4 and the third seed, nipped No. 2 Winslow 3-2 in the other semifinal.
Brewer beat Presque Isle 8-0 in the 2007 Eastern B final before winning the state title.
The Witches moved up to Class A for two seasons and reached the semifinals.
Brewer won both regular-season matchups this year, 3-1 to open the season in Presque Isle and a 10-5 triumph in Brewer on Jan. 11.
“Brewer is very good. There’s no question about it,” said Shaw. “They have three very good lines. A lot of their role players are better than the top players on other teams. [Goalie] Eric White is one of the strongest goalies in the league. We aren’t going to get too many scoring chances, so we’re going to have to finish when we get them.”
The Witches have no intention of looking past the Wildcats, according to White.
“They’re capable of beating us,” said White. “We have to make sure we’re ready to play. They have a pretty fast team. Brennen Shaw is one of the fastest skaters I’ve seen in the state. We’re going to have to contain him.”
“We don’t expect a blowout by any means,” said Brewer coach David Shedd. “I was shocked with the Bangor game and with the Lawrence outcome.”
“But when our guys get rolling, the floodgates open and they don’t stop,” said Shedd.
“We have to play the best we can and not have defensive breakdowns like we had in the second period against Winslow,” said Presque Isle senior defenseman Jason Martin. “We’d like to get on top early. We need to play good defense all night.”
Brewer senior right wing Nick Risser said the Witches have to be relentless, keep the tempo up and “score as many goals as we can. They’re a very good team.”
One of the keys to Presque Isle’s postseason success has been goaltender Josh MacFarline and he will have to have a strong game if they are to pull off the upset, according to Shaw
“I’m going to have to stay calm and concentrate,” said MacFarline. “I wasn’t ready for them last time. After the 3-1 game, I figured I’d be able to hold them to that.
“They’re the best team we’ve played, by far. I’ve got to do a better job reading the play and I’ve got to use the pokecheck and be more aggressive.”
“It’ll be a good game,” predicted Shedd. “It will be a fast-moving game. I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw some creative stuff at us — something out of the ordinary.”
“I have a plan,” said PI coach Carl Flynn. “It’ll either work or blow up. We’ll see which it is.”
Brewer has five players with 37 or more points: Risser (26 goals, 23 assists), Tyler White (19 & 24), Alec Pacheco (18 & 25), Jacob Chapman (20 & 20) and Evan Nadeau (14 & 23).
Chris Lopez (8 & 12) anchors the defense.
Shaw (34 & 28) has paced the Wildcats along with brother Connor Shaw (17 & 15), Zac Campbell (13 & 11), Isaac Lajoie (6 & 17) and Mitch Davis (9 & 10) and defensemen Martin (7 & 11) and Steve Ford (4 & 17).
Shaw can reach the 100-goal mark for his career with two goals.
“I’d rather win the game,” said Shaw.