LEWISTON, Maine — Through two periods of Eastern Maine Class A high school semifinal hockey action at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday, top-seeded Bangor seemed to be playing the part of boxer Apollo Creed in the first two Rocky movies, while fifth-seeded Brunswick was filling the underdog Rocky Balboa persona.
Though the favored Rams gave the Dragons their best shot, Brunswick hung around, refusing to be knocked out in trailing 2-1 through 30 minutes.
Unlike in the Rocky movies where Creed failed to get it done, the Rams were able to deliver the knock-out blow, tallying three goals in the third period for a 5-1 win and a spot in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. Eastern A final at the Colisee against No. 3 St. Dominic, which downed rival Lewiston, 4-2, in Saturday’s second semifinal.
It was the one-two punch of Bangor’s Sam Kenney and Trevor DeLaite that did the trick for the Rams. Kenney had the first two goals and added a pair of third-period assists, while DeLaite scored all three goals in the final frame and added an assist for a pair of four-point nights.
“Momentum is everything in hockey, and we really wanted to come out hard,” said Kenney, who had both first-period goals for a 2-0 Bangor (16-3) edge after 15 minutes. “We have a lot of heart and a lot of hustle, and I think we did that tonight. We have good chemistry. I try to come out here and work hard, and if four points were part of that, then I am happy. But, if I didn’t have a point and we still won, I would be just as happy.”
“It was the effort we were looking for, and he doesn’t get that recognition that some of the other guys get, and you never know where the scoring is going to come from, which is great,” said Bangor coach Quinn Paradis. “We had Sam on defense for a couple years, and this year we moved him up to forward. He had a great game for us.”
Kenney got the scoring started at 7:27 of the opening frame. He took a lead pass from Kyle Farley and cut toward the Brunswick net before slipping a shot between netminder Blake Alexander’s arm and body for a 1-0 lead.
At 10:07. Kenney doubled the lead on a Rams power play. Alexander turned aside two shots before Kenney put home a rebound.
Bangor held a 14-7 lead in shots, with Alexander keeping the Dragons around with 12 saves, and the senior was far from done. The Rams continued to possess the puck to open the second period. Bangor held a 22-8 shots advantage at one point, but still only led 2-0. Alexander’s best save was a post-to-post pad stop of Nate Bach from the top of his crease.
“He made a couple key saves there, and he picked the team up,” said Brunswick coach Mike Routhier of Alexander, who finished with 33 stops. “It was a shooting gallery at times, but Blake came on really well at the end of the season and really kept us in the game.”
Alexander’s hard work paid off as Brunswick clawed back into the game. Bangor was whistled for two infractions, giving the Dragons a two-man advantage. Matt Brooks received a pass from Dwayne Palmer and rifled a shot from the blue line past screened Bangor goaltender Rye Powell with 1:18 remaining in the middle period to cut the Bangor lead in half. Brunswick went to the locker room with the momentum.
Brunswick had some chances on the power play out of the gate in the third period, but Powell, who had 21 saves, kept the Dragons off the board.
After the Dragons’ power play ended, Bangor went up a man and cashed in. Alexander made four stops during the scoring sequence, but DeLaite put home the fifth Rams chance at 2:33 of the frame, with Andrew Elston and Kenney picking up an assist each.
Both teams turned up the intensity, resulting in penalties, with the Rams going down two players once again. However, this time Brunswick managed just one shot, and a pair of goals by DeLaite 34 seconds apart completed the scoring and put an end to Brunswick’s season.
“We had to stay out of the box, especially after Brooks scored a great goal, then we had another 5-on-3 against us in the third, but that time we did a good job on the penalty kill,” said Paradis. “Brunswick is a great team, and we knew it would be tough to play them. Their goaltender had a great night.”
Justin Courtney and Andrew Elston finished with two assists each for Bangor.