It will be eastern Maine neighbors against central Maine neighbors on Tuesday when the high school hockey playoffs get underway.
The fifth-seeded John Bapst High School Crusaders, 9-9, and sixth seed Hampden Academy, 8-8-2, will hit the road for Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal games against No. 4 Winslow, 9-9, and No. 3 Waterville, 10-7-1, respectively.
John Bapst and Winslow will play at 7 p.m. at Sukee Arena in Winslow with Hampden Academy and Waterville squaring off at 7:30 p.m. at Colby College’s Alfond Arena.
Defending two-time regional champ Messalonskee of Oakland, 18-0, and No. 2 Presque Isle, 12-5-1, received quarterfinal-round byes.
Bangor earned the top seed in the Eastern Maine A Heal point standings and received a quarterfinal-round bye. Three Eastern A quarterfinals are set for Tuesday.
John Bapst played in its first EM Class B final a year ago but lost to Messalonskee 7-2 in the final.
John Bapst senior defenseman Ray Hummels said the team gained some positive reinforcement in a 4-1 loss to Messalonskee last week.
“We had a good game with them for two and a half periods. If we can stick to our systems, we’ll have a good chance. Winslow has a good team,” Hummels said.
“We have to backcheck well and not sacrifice defense for offense,” said John Bapst coach Gene Fadrigon. “We have to take our shots off quicker and take as many shots as we can.”
Fadrigon said another cause for optimism is the play of junior goalie Sam Lander.
“He has improved with every game,” said Fadrigon.
Nate Reese, Hunter Pate, Jonathan Cheff, Logan Cyr-Ellis and Tyler Wheeler have been the offensive catalysts and senior Ethan Handley has been anchoring the defense.
Winslow features Alex Berard (13 goals, 10 assists), Jacob Trask (11-11) and Jimmy Fowler (9-11).
Hampden Academy coach Bill Schwarz said his team is “finally healthy” after an injury-marred regular season and expects a tight battle with Waterville.
“We’re going to need good goaltending and we have to capitalize on our scoring chances,” said Schwarz.
Mike Ward (16-8) and Dylan Cray (13-11) are HA’s top point-getters and Matt Closson, who had missed much of the season due to injury, is another catalyst. Riley Eastman and Rob Stowe have led the defense corps in front of goalie Ryan Manning.
Waterville has been led by Nick Denis (21-11), Chris Lee (11-18) and Tommy Samson (8-12).