ORONO, Maine — It was a battle between two of the teams who are expected to challenge Brewer’s quest for a third straight Eastern Maine Class B hockey championship.
And it was the Old Town High School Coyotes who emerged triumphant, 7-1 over Presque Isle behind hat tricks by linemates Trevor Francis and David Wilcox. Wilcox added two assists and Francis had one.
Old Town improved to 6-2 with its fourth win in five games.
Presque Isle fell to 5-4, losing its second in a row after a five-game winning streak.
First-period goals 4:11 apart by junior right wing Francis and senior center Wilcox staked the Coyotes to a 2-0 lead but Presque Isle’s Tyler Seeley cut the lead in half 6:35 into the second period with a power-play tally.
But Francis’ second goal of the game, a shorthanded tally, re-established the two-goal lead with three minutes left in the second period and Alex Leithiser made it 4-1 just 1:05 later.
Power-play goals 40 seconds apart by Francis and Wilcox in the first 1:23 of the third period sewed up the win for the Coyotes and Wilcox completed his hat trick by tapping a pass from his twin brother, Peter, into an open net. That was also a power-play goal.
Francis’ shorthanded goal was a huge turning point and was a tribute to his hard work as he forechecked feverishly and was able to win the puck after fighting off some checks and slide the puck to a wide-open Leithiser in the middle of the slot.
Leithiser’s shot sailed high and wide of the net but the rebound came out to the side of the net and Francis tucked it behind PI goalie Nic Davis, who had come out to cut down Leithiser’s angle and couldn’t scramble back in time.
“I just crashed the net and the puck came out behind the goalie,” said Francis.
“That was a game-changer,” said Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn.
“You won’t find a player with more energy than Trevor Francis,” added Old Town coach Brett Hale.
Nick Nadeau was the distributor on Leithiser’s goal as he controlled the puck behind the net and put a pinpoint pass on the stick of Leithiser, who one-timed the puck into the far corner past the blocker of the helpless Davis.
The Coyotes opened the third period with an extensive five-on-three and Francis capitalized 43 seconds into the period when he unleashed a one-timer from the midpoint off a David Wilcox pass and past the screened Davis.
The duo swapped roles on the next one as Wilcox beat Davis with a one-timer from just beyond the top of the right circle off a feed from Francis.
Wilcox capped the scoring after his defenseman brother muscled his way between two Wildcats before sliding the puck across to him.
Seeley’s goal came with one second left on a PI power play as he jammed the puck past Old Town goalie Nathan Colannino after Cody Merrill’s shot from a tough angle found its way through a crowd and hit the goalie in the chest before dropping in front.
The Wildcats had some glorious chances to equalize but Colannino was sharp and the goals by Francis and Leithiser deflated the Wildcats.
Francis had opened the scoring 2:25 into the game and his goal came seconds after Colannino made nice saves off Isaac LaJoie and Connor Shaw.
LaJoie had skated unmolested out of the corner and got off a quick backhander that Colannino kicked out with his pad. Shaw carried the puck to the middle of the slot off a faceoff and fired a 15-foot wrister that Colannino rejected with his body.
In the ensuing rush, David Wilcox made a nice pass across the low slot to Kyle Dubay, whose point-blank wrister was stopped by the pad of Davis.
But the rebound spilled to the middle of the slot and Francis swept it into the half-empty net.
Wilcox expanded the lead at the 6:36 mark by capitalizing on a Wildcat turnover.
An attempted pass hit Wilcox in the body and he broke in alone on Davis.
Wilcox stumbled to one knee but as he regained his balance and began rising to his skates, he snapped off a wrister that caught the top corner past Davis’ glove.
“That was one of the prettiest goals I’ve seen,” said Hale.
Hale called it a “great win.”
“We played with a ton of energy and we were able to keep their top line [LaJoie, Shaw and Adam Flynn] to the outside,” said Hale. “And Nathan made some great pad saves in the first period.”
Colannino finished with 47 saves.
“[Colannino] is in our kids’ heads,” said Flynn. “We outshot them by 20 in a preseason game but lost 3-2.”
Flynn said his players passed up shots to try to get closer or create better shooting angles and had the puck stripped time and time again.
Davis finished with 36 saves.