BREWER, Maine — Two of the teams expected to challenge defending two-time Eastern Maine Class B champion Messalonskee of Oakland for the title met at Brewer’s Penobscot Ice Arena on Wednesday night.
And it was a pair of seniors who led the way for the Waterville High School Purple Panthers as center Chris Lee had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Kaleb Kane made 26 saves in their 2-0 win over Brewer.
Waterville improved to 5-1-1 while the Witches fell to 4-2-1.
Lee scored an unassisted goal 5:45 into the first period and set up freshman right wing Dalton Henderson’s first varsity goal at the 5:25 mark of the second period.
Kane came up with a handful of quality saves en route to his third shutout of the season and his teammates helped him out by limiting Brewer’s second- and third-chance opportunities.
“I thought I played pretty well, but it was nice to have the guys clear the front of the net and clear pucks out,” said Kane.
“It was a really even game,” said Brewer junior standout center Gabe Valley. “We had a lot of quality shots, but their goalie kept them in it. [Lee] was the powerhouse for their offense. Without him, it would have been a whole different game.”
Lee was a second team All-Eastern Maine Class A forward a year ago. This is Waterville’s first season in Class B.
The Panthers did an effective job keeping the dynamic Valley in check.
“They were all over me the whole game. I couldn’t really skate with the puck; I had to dish it off real quickly to Dylan [Severance] or Gehrig [White],” said Valley.
“Coach [Dennis Martin] told us he was a good player so we had to mark him up. We didn’t want him to get started,” said Lee.
“We had to stay on his body and not let him get around us,” said Waterville freshman defenseman Andrew Roderigue, who turned in an impressive performance including a critical intervention to disrupt a shorthanded two-on-one involving Valley and Zach Torrey in the second period.
Lee opened the scoring by intercepting a Brewer pass at the offensive blue line and converting on the breakaway.
“I anticipated the pass and it landed right on my stick,” said Lee. “The goalie was back in his net, so I didn’t look to deke him. I put it blocker side.”
“It went over my pad and under my blocker. That’s a hard one to save,” said Brewer goalie Tyler Friel.
In the second period, Nick Denis slipped the puck to Lee busting down the right wing and he was able to get around a defenseman before sending a pass across to the far post to the unattended Henderson.
Friel said he got a piece of the pass but it deflected over to Henderson.
“It popped up in the air and little bit and I tapped it in right out of the air,” said Henderson. He said he dedicated the goal to his grandmother, Dorothy Mitchell, who has brain cancer.
“I really wanted to score in this game. That one was for her,” he said.
Kane came up with an important save at the end of the period as he got a piece of Severance’s one-timer from just beyond the crease.
“At that point, it was a desperation situation. I had to do whatever I could to stop the puck. I got a piece of it with my blocker,” said Kane.
He also made a couple of early third-period saves off Valley from the left circle.
Friel was the busier of the two goalies and also turned in a stellar performance as he finished with 28 saves.