LEWISTON, Maine — Ted Hart went one-on-three into the offensive end with his first touch of the puck during Wednesday night’s Western Maine Class B ice hockey final. He still managed a shot that required a high-quality save from Camden Hills of Rockport freshman goalie Jet Magri.
It was a sign of things to come.
The junior center scored on his next two shots to stake Greely of Cumberland to an early lead and finished the match with three goals and an assist to lead the defending state champions to a 7-1 victory over the Windjammers at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“I thought we played well in all three zones,” said Hart, who has 34 goals and 16 assists this winter for coach Barry Mothes’ club. “We had quick, clean breakouts and we definitely transitioned well through the neutral zone, and then we possessed the puck a lot down low in the offensive zone.
“We wanted to make them to play a lot of defense, especially early, and I think that tired them out.”
Linemate Reid Howland, a sophomore right winger, also had three goals and an assist for top-ranked Greely (16-4), which plays Eastern Maine champion Messalonskee of Oakland (18-2) for the state title at 1 p.m. Saturday, also at the Colisee. Greely defeated Messalonskee 6-2 in the 2012 state final.
Second-seeded Camden Hills (15-5) was making its first appearance in a regional final in just its seventh year as a varsity program.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Camden Hills coach Karl Enroth, whose roster included just three seniors and 10 freshmen. “We’re building for the future and we’re optimistic about the future.”
Sophomore goalie Kyle Kramlich made 18 saves on 19 shots for Greely, while Magri made 23 saves on 30 shots.
Camden Hills had no answer for Hart, who threatened the back of the net virtually every time he gained control of the puck.
“My linemates (Howland and sophomore Mitchel Donovan) definitely create a lot of space for me, they definitely help me out,” said Hart. “I guess teams can’t shut down every guy, there’s always an open guy and there always seems to be a guy playing well and getting to the net.”
Hart gave Greely a 1-0 lead 6:50 into the opening period. He took a pass from Donovan — one of his three assists in the period — near center ice along the right boards, skated into the center circle and proceeded straight toward the Camden Hills goal.
When he got to the inner edge of the right circle, Hart wristed a shot over Magri’s stick.
Hart made it 2-0 less than three minutes later. He accepted a pass from Donovan along the left boards, skated to the top of the left circle and blasted a high shot inside the far post at 9:42. Junior Brian Storey also was credited with an assist.
“Hart made two incredible plays on regroups through the neutral zone,” said Enroth. “He got some separation and he’s so explosive and he was able to put a couple away.”
Donovan set up Howland for the final goal of the period, taking a pass from Jarod Lavallee near the left post and feeding the puck across the crease to Howland, who one-timed it into the open net at 13:50.
Camden Hills, which outshot Greely 9-7 in the first period, had several decent chances late in the period — particularly from junior center Grayson Szumilas — that tested Kramlich.
Greely stepped up the offensive pressure during the second period and outshot Camden Hills 13-4.
Hart scored his third goal of the match at 7:58 of the second, redirecting a rebound past Magri to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead after a blast by Howland from the right wing clanged high off the left goal post.
Camden Hills’ best scoring bid of the period came on a counterattack in the final minutes. Sophomore James Annis delivered a high shot from the right wing that required a quick glove save by Kramlich.
Junior forward Joe Saffian scored his fifth goal of the winter for Greely at 1:26 of the third. Aidan Black got the puck to teammate Pete Hurley behind the Camden Hills goal. Hurley spotted Saffian open at the near post, and Saffian redirected the short pass into the net.
Camden Hills ended Kramlich’s shutout bid when Szumilas scored his 22nd goal of the season at 3:36 of the final period with a quick one-timer that was assisted by co-captains Cal Robbins and Jack Orne.
Howland completed his hat trick with goals at 5:33 and 9:10 of the final period, both assisted by Saffian.