Both top-seeded Brewer and No. 2 Houlton-Hodgdon possess quality and quantity when it comes to talent and scoring punch.
Down 3-1 with 10 minutes left in the game, the second-seeded Black Hawks erupted for three goals in a 72-second span and got five goals from five different scorers en route to a 5-3 victory over No. 3 Old Town at Sukee Arena.
In the second game, the Witches got eight goals from four different scorers and three goals apiece from two players during an 8-0 win over No. 4 Lawrence of Fairfield.
The wins set up a 7 p.m. Eastern final showdown at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena in Orono Tuesday between the 18-0-1 Witches and 16-3 Black Hawks. Old Town finishes 11-7-1 and Lawrence winds up 8-10-2.
IN THE FIRST GAME, defenseman Kameron Lincoln ignited an improbable scoring flurry by launching a 60-foot rocket from just over the blue line on a charge up the left side with 9:29 left. The puck hit nothing but the back of the net and momentum began to swing.
“It basically came down to two shots,” said Old Town coach Brett Hale. “We had a chance real early to make it 4-1 and could have put the game away, but they were tenacious after that second goal. They found a different gear and we couldn’t catch them anymore after that point.”
One minute later, Cody Briggs scored on a shot from the right circle off assists from Logan Holmes and Ben Ward. Just 21 seconds later, Ian Gervais made it 4-3 Hawks on a goal off a rush up the right side.
Senior forward Dylan Gard and sophomore forward Parker Sanderson scored the first and last goals, respectively, while also notching one assist each to pace the Black Hawks’ offense.
“Stupid penalties were getting us in trouble, and we started holding the puck a little bit longer, making more accurate passes and looking before passing it,” said Sanderson. “We stretched the passes out more.”
The other goals were scored by senior captain Cody Briggs and senior forward Ian Gervais.
It was the seniors who head coach Joel Trickey called upon in the second intermission to lead the Black Hawks’ rally.
“We were a little worried after those two late goals in the second took the wind out of our sails,” said Trickey. “I took the seven seniors aside and told them they only had 15 minutes left in their careers if they didn’t step up and rally this team.
“We got their heads back on straight and found the energy themselves.”
Another senior also stepped up as goalie Matt Abouleish was 5-for-5 in the third period and saved 14 of 17 total shots.
“Matt makes one or two saves a game that probably should be goals, so he kept us in and gave us a chance to come back,” Trickey said.
For the Coyotes, Ryan Dubay, Cody Cross and David Wilcox each scored a goal. Nathan Colaninno made 25 saves on 30 shots.
“They’re a deep team. They’re deeper than we are and maybe we just ran out of gas late.” said Hale.
IN THE LATE GAME, the Witches simply overpowered Lawrence, scoring three times during a four-minute span in the first period.
“We’ve been known as a third period team, but our goal for the playoffs is to come out and be a first period team because once we start scoring, we don’t stop,” said senior captain and forward Lucas Lamond, who had a hat trick and two assists.
Ironically, it was the second line that was producing the bulk of the offense Saturday.
“Usually, most of our contributions come from our first line, but tonight me, Lucas and Spencer (Valley) had seven of the eight goals so that just shows that anybody on any time can get a goal on our team,” said sophomore forward Kyle Alexander, who had three goals and one assist.
Valley scored one goal and assisted on another.
And then there’s the defense, which could not be more overshadowed.
“Our defense kind of gets lost in all the offensive hype, but as you saw tonight, we have a very solid defensive unit,” said Brewer coach David Shedd.
Senior captain Jake Valley teamed up with junior and coach’s son Michael Shedd to spearhead a unit which limited Lawrence to just one grade-A scoring chance and nine total shots. Shedd also notched two assists.
Junior goalie Adam Cossette had nine saves for the shutout.
The other goal came off the stick of junior left wing Jacob Chapman.
Lawrence’s Brad MacKenzie (33 saves) played well in goal despite facing a withering 41-shot Brewer barrage.
The Bulldogs tried to slow the Witches down with physical play, but the Witches maintained their poise and resisted the urge to retaliate and draw penalties. Instead, they benefited as Lawrence was called for nine penalties resulting in five Brewer power-plays, three of which produced goals.
Brewer, meanwhile, was whistled for three penalties.
“They’re a very good team, they’re very fast, and their kids stay disciplined,” said Lawrence coach Dave Richard. “Success breeds success, and it’s a lot like playing Winslow with all their success and tradition.”
Lawrence senior Vincent Bernadini was given a 10-minute game misconduct penalty after mouthing off to officials after being given a two-minute roughing penalty with 59 seconds left.
Bernadini was then ejected, but continued complaining and confronted one of the officials. As another official skated over to help, Bernadini struck him while making a sweeping motion with his arm and nearly caused the official to fall.