The York High School Wildcats are hoping to get to The Colisee in Lewiston on time for their State Class B championship game against the Brewer High School Witches this afternoon.
Their bus driver got lost on Wednesday when they traveled to the Colisee for their Western Maine championship game against Yarmouth, leaving the team just 15 minutes to get dressed and get on the ice.
Brewer is hoping to make the Wildcats wish they had never arrived for the 1:00 game.
Brewer is 18-1-1 and has won 14 in a row. York is 17-3 and has won 10 straight.
In the Class A final at 6, Waterville’s 14-6-1 Purple Panthers will look to defend their state title against 18-2-1 Biddeford.
The Witches are looking to win their second straight Class B title with two seasons in Class A in between. York has never won a state title, losing to Winslow 4-3 in overtime in the state game two years ago.
First-year Brewer coach Dave Shedd is not one to mince his words and he feels if his team plays up to its capabilities, the Witches will have a joyful bus ride home.
“I told everyone the first night at our parents meeting that our goal was to go 23-0,” said the 46-year-old Shedd, a Millinocket native and Stearns High School graduate.
He had previously told the hiring committee that no matter who they hired, “if [the new coach] managed this team appropriately, they could win the state championship. And I don’t mean just me. Anyone who does the little things right and harnesses control of the team and manages it properly [could win it]. I knew we had a nu-cleus of talent.”
York coach Mike Vessey said he doesn’t anticipate having to ask his players if they have a GPS navigational system on their cellphones to find The Colisee like they did on Wednesday.
Vessey’s Wildcats have impressive credentials. Two of their three losses came at the hands of Western Maine Class A finalists Biddeford and Thornton Academy of Saco.
“We’ve been very strong defensively. In the majority of our games, we had held our opponents to 15 shots or less,” said Vessey.
Their defense and goaltending will be severely tested by a Brewer team that won its two EM playoff games by a combined 18-3 over Lawrence of Fairfield and Presque Isle.
And Brewer’s depth was in evidence as the four players who share playing time on the third line combined for seven goals.
The Witches will attack the York defense on the forecheck and they can also create rush chances.
“I’ve always coached a fast, aggressive in-your-face game,” said Shedd, who coached in the Brewer youth system for 10 years before taking over for Bill Schwarz this season.
“I know they have two solid lines and their goaltender [Eric White] is very, very good,” said Vessey.
Vessey said his team was hampered by a 16-day layoff between the end of the regular season and their first playoff game and need to play the way they did at the end of the regular season.
Shedd feels his team is quicker and has better depth than York but said the Wildcats have some quality players they will have to contend with like rugged power forward Paddy Murphy, a right winger, and his linemate Dave Figlioli, the left wing.
“Murphy is a very strong and aggressive forward and Figlioli is a very good player,” said Shedd.
“We’re going to have to minimize York’s time and space and create time and space for ourselves,” said Shedd who has been particularly pleased with the play of his youthful defense corps.
“They’ve been better than I expected,” said Shedd referring to cousins Brody and Jake Valley and his son, Michael Shedd.
Brewer is led by right wing Nick Risser (26 goals, 24 assists), LW Tyler White (20 & 25), C Alec Pacheco (18 & 26), RW Jacob Chapman (20 & 21) and C Evan Nadeau (15 & 23) along with defenseman Chris Lopez (8 & 12) and goalie White. LW Spencer Valley has five playoff goals.
Yarmouth has been led by Figlioli (52 points), Craig Decato (43 points) and AnthonyFiglioli (41) along with Murphy (33) and Corey Decato. A seven-man defense corps features Conor O’Brien (16 points) and Tanner Chase (15 points) and Alex Ahrikenchikh is the goaltender.
In the Class A final, Waterville will be led by Nick Deblois (15 & 11), Josh Gaudette (11 & 15), Kyle Bishop (14 & 7), Matt Lee (3 & 17) and Ryan Cormier (13-6-1, 1.60 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) while Biddeford features the Fleurents, Trevor (33 & 27) and Brady (16 & 24), along with Craig Anton (10 & 24) and Derek Reny (17 & 9) along with goalie Matt Roy (15-2-1, 1.99, .907).