BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School hockey team found itself in a tough spot midway through the third period of its Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal against Hall-Dale/Winthrop/Maranacook on Tuesday evening.
The Rams had watched a four-goal lead disappear, and there were no specific signs that their fortunes were going to change anytime soon.
But an energetic shift by the line of senior Carl Farnham and sophomores Nick Graham and Jake Fournier served to reinvigorate their teammates, and Bangor rallied to score three late goals to earn an 8-5 victory at Sawyer Arena.
Junior defenseman Justin Courtney scored the go-ahead goal with 6:08 left in the third period, not long after the Farnham-Graham-Fournier line had provided a much-needed spark.
“We got a great shift out of our young line,” said Bangor senior forward Parker Sanderson, who led Bangor offensively with two goals and an assist. “They went out and skated hard, they moved the puck well and kept it in their zone, and after that we went out there and we had to keep up the pace because we wanted to keep up with them. That’s when opportunities started opening up.”
Sanderson worked his way behind the net in the offensive zone before sending a low tape-to-tape pass out to Courtney near the blue line. Courtney quickly set up to shoot and sent the puck back past MHW goalie Tyler Plante to give the Rams a 6-5 lead.
“[Sanderson] saw me far side and their forwards had kind of sunk down low and I stepped into it and it went low glove side right into the net,” said Courtney of the goal, his sixth of the season. “In the moment it seemed like it happened real fast. Parker just made a great pass and I saw the net and put it there.”
Courtney followed with an empty-net goal with 21.6 seconds remaining, and Zeb Tuell added another goal for Bangor with 6.8 seconds left in the match.
“It was really nerve-wracking when they came back,” said Sanderson after Bangor secured its eighth victory in its last nine matches. “When a team scores four unanswered goals it’s tough to settle down and get going again, but we finally settled down and got on our toes again and put some pucks in the net.”
The win advances second-ranked Bangor (16-3) to a semifinal matchup Saturday against No. 3 Saint Dominic of Auburn at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Saint Dominic (12-6-1) eliminated No. 6 Skowhegan 6-0 on Tuesday.
MHW ends its season with a 10-7-1 record.
Farnham, Graham and Cam Dickson also scored for Bangor, while Zach Papsadora had two assists and Tuell, Fournier, Kyle Farley and Sam Huston added one assist each.
Matt Plourde scored three goals for MHW, while Dan Condon had a goal and an assist, Zach Bessette scored a goal and Jared Hanson, Chris Stanley and Zach Goudbout each had an assist for the Hawks.
MHW outshot Bangor 34-28, with Bangor goalie Rye Powell making 29 saves while Plante had 20 stops for MHW.
“It was a great game if you like offense,” said Bangor coach Quinn Paradis. “We knew it was going to be that way when they came out, it was two high-powered offensive teams and that’s what you got tonight.”
Goals by Sanderson and Dickson gave Bangor a 2-1 lead after the first period, and the Rams then seemingly broke the game open with unanswered goals by Graham, Farnham and Sanderson during a 1-minute, 14-second span of the second period.
But that 5-1 cushion didn’t last long.
Plourde’s first goal narrowed the MHW deficit to 5-2 with 7:57 left in the second period, and a five-minute roughing penalty called against Bangor in the aftermath of that score seemed to shift the game’s momentum.
The Hawks needed just 52 seconds before Bessette scored a power-play goal to cut the gap to 5-3, and Plourde took a feed from Condon and scored from close range to make it a one-goal match with 1:26 left in the period.
MHW completed its comeback 3:43 into the third when Plourde scored on a rebound.
“We really didn’t let up,” said Paradis. “We took a couple of penalties, and that five-minute major took some life away from us and they got two quick goals. But we came back in the third period and fought the adversity and did what we needed to do.”