Old Town High School sophomore Nathan Colannino and Bangor High School senior Chris Howat know they are going to be tested Saturday.
They are goaltenders and they will be looking to lead their respective teams to berths in the Eastern Maine Class B and A championship games when they man the pipes in Saturday’s semifinals.
Colannino and his fifth-seeded Coyotes (10-8-1) will be taking on top seed and defending two-time EM B champion Brewer (17-1) at 8 pm. at Sukee Arena in Winslow. That will follow the 5 p.m. opener between second seed Messalonskee of Oakland (16-3) and third seed Presque Isle (12-7).
Bangor (14-5) will face St. Dominic of Auburn (13-6) in Saturday’s second semifinal at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston right after No. 1 Lewiston (14-4-1) takes on No. 4 Cony of Augusta (15-4) beginning at noon.
Colannino turned in a superb 46-save performance in a 4-1 loss to Brewer on Jan. 23.
Brewer outshot Old Town 50-8.
The Witches had beaten Old Town 5-1 three days earlier.
“It’s definitely going to be tough but we’re going to do the best we can to shut them down and, hopefully, we can,” said Colannino. “I’m definitely going to see a lot of shots. They’re highly skilled. They are such a complete team. You never get a break.”
He is looking forward to the challenge even if he is peppered with shots.
“That’s what we [goalies] live for,” said Colannino, who will leave Old Town to attend a prep school next season.
He knows his team will be a heavy underdog but that could be advantageous.
“We have nothing to lose,” said the 15-year-old Colannino who feels the most important part of his game will be his rebound control.
“I can’t give them any extra chances. They’re going to create enough chances themselves,” said Colannino. “Hopefully, we can come out and play a real solid game and give ourselves a chance.”
Old Town coach Brett Hale said having Colannino in goal “gives us an opportunity to win any game.”
The Witches have a lot of respect for Colannino.
“He’s a really good goalie,” said Brewer senior left wing Jacob Chapman. “Getting a lot of shots on him is going to be very important.”
“But we feel we can get into any goalie’s head with our offense,” said Brewer senior goalie Adam Cossette, who will oppose Colannino.
Hale said his Coyotes will have to “start fast, play physical and, most importantly, be disciplined. We’ve also got to contain [senior center] Kyle Alexander.”
Howat and the Rams will be taking on a St. Dom’s team they split overtime games with during the season.
Bangor won 4-3 in Lewiston on Dec. 16 and lost 2-1 at Sawyer Arena on Feb. 11.
Howat made 20 saves, including two off breakaways, in a hard-fought 4-1 quarterfinal win over Brunswick on Tuesday.
“St. Dom’s is all about speed,” said Howat. “They crash the net and hit the back door [pass]. I’m going to have to anticipate that quick lateral pass and stay on my feet.”
Howat said although the Saints play their regular season games at The Colisee, “it’s not as big an advantage to them as you might think. The Colisee is a big place and the crowd gets drowned out.”
Howat feels the team is coming into the game in a good frame of mind.
“The team has come together very well and my game has come along with it,” said Howat.
His teammates have confidence in him.
“He has come up big for us all season. He has been our anchor,” said junior left wing Carl Farnham. “He’s going to have to have a big game against St. Dom’s and I think he can.”
“Chris was hot in the beginning of the season, he cooled down midway through the season but he has started to heat up again,” said Bangor junior center Parker Sanderson, who has a team-high 18 goals and 29 points. “Hopefully, he’ll be hot down there.”
Zach Papsadora has 10 goals but second-leading point-getter Connor Griffin sustained a season-ending knee injury against Brunswick.
St. Dom’s has five players, all seniors, with 17 or more points in Spencer Martin, Cody Rodrigue, Danny Nadeau, Cam Hainey and Chris Finlay.
The Presque Isle-Messalonskee matchup will feature two of the league’s top lines.
Isaac LaJoie centers the Wildcats’ No. 1 line between Connor Shaw and Adam Flynn. Flynn just returned to the lineup after suffering a high ankle sprain.
They have teamed up for 63 goals and 75 assists.
Messalonskee counters with dynamic center Sam Dexter between Chase Cunningham and James Varney.
Nate Delgiudice will square off against Presque Isle’s Nic Davis in goal.
Messalonskee has won seven of its last eight and is 9-1 at Sukee Arena while Presque Isle has won seven of its last nine.
Messalonskee beat Presque Isle 8-3 on Dec. 16.
“We’re a vastly different team now,” said Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn whose Wildcat teams are 3-0 in the semis. “This will be the first time we’ve had our whole team since game nine. We’ve got to get through the first period [tied or ahead]. If we do, we’re better conditioned than they are.”