BANGOR, Maine — The second-seeded Bangor High School Rams had their hands full with the youthful Brunswick High School Dragons on Tuesday night but senior goalie Chris Howat made 20 saves and Bangor received power-play goals from Zeb Tuell and Jordan Tracy to oust Brunswick 4-1 in their Eastern Maine Class A hockey quarterfinal at Sawyer Arena.
Bangor improved to 14-5 and will face third seed St. Dominic of Auburn, 13-6, in Saturday’s semifinal at the Colisee in Lewiston. Top seed Lewiston, 14-4-1, and fourth-seed Cony of Augusta, 15-4, will meet in the other semi.
Seventh seed Brunswick, composed of all sophomores and freshmen with the exception of seniors Dylan Towle and Blake Bodwell, finished up at 7-11-1.
“It was a tough one. Playoffs are tough, I guess,” said Bangor junior center Parker Sanderson, who gave the Rams a lead they would never relinquish with his18th goal of the season 7:32 into the first period.
Tuell scored in the second period and Tracy notched his in the third. It was the sixth goal of the season for both.
Brunswick’s Dwayne Palmer scored his fourth with 29 seconds left in regulation before Wyatt Frost capped the scoring with an empty-netter. It was his fourth.
Sanderson opened the scoring with a breakaway snap shot from the left circle courtesy of a Kyle Farley pass.
Brunswick was caught in a line change.
“I saw their defenseman leaving the ice and we had possession of the puck so I positioned myself and opened up and Farley gave me a nice pass,” said Sanderson. “I knew one of their defensemen was coming hard so I had to shoot it (quickly) and the goalie (sophomore Blake Alexander) had his glove low so I put it high.”
Howat stopped Palmer and Towle on breakaways in the first period although the Rams outshot the Dragons 12-3 and carried the play.
Howat said Palmer’s shot “hit my right pad” and Towle “tried to go five-hole and I snapped it shut.”
Towle’s opportunity came while the Dragons were shorthanded and, seconds later, Ryan Maciejewski missed the short side with another Dragon shorthanded breakaway.
“Their goalie stood on his head,” said Brunswick’s Bodwell. “We didn’t crash the net. We didn’t get the lucky breaks this time.”
“He kept them in it, no question,” agreed Brunswick coach Mike Routhier. “We did everything we wanted to do but we just couldn’t score.”
Tuell scored at the 8:26 mark of the second period when he was camped out at the edge of the crease to Alexander’s right and tipped Cam Dickson’s wrister from the left-wing boards through Alexander’s pads.
Moments later, the Rams killed off a full two-minute, two-man disadvantage with Sanderson killing the first 30 seconds himself with his stick-handling and sprint up the ice.
“I just tried to keep it in their zone,” said Sanderson.
Tracy scored at the 9:22 mark of the third period after Dickson won a faceoff and it wound up on his stick.
Tracy maneuvered from right to left across the slot and beat Alexander with a wrist shot through the legs.
“I just went to the net and put her in,” said Tracy.
Palmer ruined Howat’s shutout bid by jamming the puck home during a scramble in front.
“I faced a few more shots than I expected,” said Howat. “They’re a good team. They never gave up. I wish I hadn’t let that one in. But I thought I was sharp and my defense helped me out a lot.”
Alexander finished with 24 saves.
Bangor lost second-leading scorer Connor Griffin to a knee injury early in the first period.
“I don’t think we played that well,” said Bangor coach Denis Collins. “They came out and played physical and the pace our our game. We’re going to have to be sharper against St. Dom’s.”