BREWER, Maine — When they line up for a faceoff in Saturday night’s schoolboy hockey game at the Penobscot Ice Arena in Brewer, Bangor High center Zach Papsadora and Brewer High center Spencer Valley will probably engage in some good-natured banter before the puck is dropped.
“I’ve known Spencer since we were 5 or 6 years old. We have a good friendship,” said Papsadora.
“It’s going to be a good experience. They’re a bunch of good guys, and that makes it more fun,” said Valley.
“It’s unique because we’re all friends,” said Bangor senior left wing Zeb Tuell.
Several of the players have been teammates on the Maine Freeze and other teams during their youth hockey days.
But when the puck drops, it will be all business as two of just four Eastern Maine unbeaten teams square off beginning at 5 p.m.
Both are 4-0 and in second place in the Heal Points standings in their respective classes: Bangor in Class A and Brewer in Class B.
The teams split their two games a year ago. It was Brewer’s only regular-season loss.
“It’s going to be neat,” said Valley. “You have a Class A power against a Class B power and both are undefeated. And we’re rivals. Both teams have a lot to prove.”
Brewer coach Dave Shedd considers his team the underdogs.
“We faced them in an exhibition game and they beat us 5-0,” said Shedd. “We lost a large crew off last year’s team, so we’re relying on a lot of newcomers. They have an abundance of experienced players. They will be a very formidable team.”
“Bangor has a lot to lose and we have nothing to lose,” reasoned Brewer senior defenseman Jake Caron.
“I don’t mind being an underdog. It gives us more incentive,” said Valley.
“Bangor-Brewer games are always very competitive,” said Bangor coach Quinn Paradis.
“Brewer is always good,” noted Tuell.
Shedd said he is primarily concerned with Bangor’s forwards.
“They have at least three lines that are made up of very good skaters. And they have so many shooters,” said Shedd. “We’re going to have to stay out of the penalty box, try to hang with them and capitalize on the special teams.”
“We’ve got to be prepared for a hard, fast-skating game,” said Valley. “We’ve got to shoot a lot and crash the net. We’ve got to be like a bunch of hornets out there.”
Caron and Brody Valley are the only Witch defensemen with a significant experience and the Rams will be looking to exploit that.
“We’ve got a lot of fast forwards, so we’ll try to chip the puck behind their defensemen and get in on them,” said Tuell.,
“We’re certainly going to go hard after them. We want to use our speed,” said Bangor senior left wing Parker Sanderson.
Both teams have a prolific top line with Papsadora, Sanderson and sophomore Jordan Tracy comprising Bangor’s first line. Spencer Valley centers Brewer’s No. 1 line between cousin Gabe Valley, a sophomore, and junior Gehrig White.
Bangor has more experience and depth on its second and third lines and on defense, but Brewer senior goalie Patrick Spaulding has a big edge in experience over Bangor first-year starter Rye Powell.
And Brewer’s seniors are 2-0 at the PIA against Bangor.