Old Town-Orono hockey coach Denis Collins said his players still talk about last season’s heartbreaking 6-5 overtime loss to Waterville in the Class B North final.
His Black Bears had two two-goal leads in the first two periods and three one-goal leads in the third period.
“I was told by the MPA (Maine Principals’ Association) that we were the first co-op team to reach a regional final,” said Collins whose top-seeded and once-beaten Black Bears look to become the first co-op team to win a regional championship as they head into Saturday night’s semifinals at Alfond Arena in Waterville.
The Black Bears (17-1) play rival fourth seed Hampden Academy (13-6) in the 8 p.m. game after No. 3 Presque Isle (13-6) faces the No. 2 Kennebec RiverHawks (11-7), made up of players from defending two-time state champ Waterville and Winslow, at 6 p.m.
The winners vie for the regional title at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Alfond Arena in Orono.
In Saturday’s Class A North semifinals at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, No. 4 Bangor (12-7) faces off against top seed and two-time defending state champ Lewiston (16-2) at 6 p.m. Second-seeded Edward Little of Auburn (11-6-1) and No. 3 Saint Dominic of Auburn (9-8-2) square off at 8 p.m.
The winners will play Tuesday night at the Colisee.
Old Town-Orono had a productive scrimmage with coach Norm Gagne’s Edward Little team on Monday and is ready to go.
“We needed it,” said Collins, whose team has won four in a row after losing to Houlton-Hodgdon-Southern Aroostook-Katahdin 4-3 in overtime.
“That was the best thing to happen to us. It was a wakeup call,” said Collins.
He said his team is playing well, including a 6-1 win over Hampden Academy that completed a two-game sweep.
“This game will be a little tighter. They’re a good, hardworking team. They’re well-coached,” said Collins.
The Black Bears are averaging over six goals per game and have exceptional balance as eight players have at least 20 points. They are led by forwards Jacob Dubay, Tyler McCannell, Sam Henderson, Trent Lick, Ben Allan-Rahill and Tanner Evans along with attack-minded defenseman Josh Wheeler and Antti Jarvicare, a Finnish exchange student. Kohle Parker is the goaltender.
Eric MacDonald’s Broncos have been led by forwards Marcus Dunn, Cooper Leland and Sam Economy. Freshman Cooper Ryan is the goalie.
Presque Isle and Waterville split regular-season games and Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn said his team’s 5-4 overtime loss to Kennebec, in which the Wildcats squandered a two-goal lead in the third period, was valuable.
“It was a good learning experience. We’re a different team now,” he said.
The youthful Wildcats advanced with a 7-2 quarterfinal win over Camden Hills of Rockport.
“We have to play high-tempo, high-energy hockey and take care of the puck,” said Flynn.
PI has received a lot of production from junior linemates Thomas Patenaude and Jake Stevens, both with 30-point seasons, along with a line of freshmen Colby Carlisle and Gage LeTourneau along with sophomore Connor Demerchant. Torey Levesque and Noah Roy have anchored the defense in front of Andre Daigle.
Forwards Cody Pellerin, Thomas Tibbetts and Jonathan Hart along with defenseman Chase Wheeler have led the RiverHawks.
Bangor coach Quinn Paradis was encouraged by his team’s regular-season games against Lewiston, two 3-1 losses.
“We played well against them. We’ve got to be real strong in the defensive zone, win all the loose puck battles and break the puck out out of our zone,” said Paradis.
Nick Boudreau (15 goals, 9 assists), David Brown (12 & 9) and Reid Higgs (9 & 12) have been the leaders up front with Jacob Munroe (5 & 7) and Zach Cowperthwaite (1 & 2) headlining the defense corps in front of goalie Jacob Henry, who shut out Cony/Monmouth 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
Alex Robert (13 & 27), Sam Frechette (11 & 13), Jack LeBlond (8 & 12) and Evan Cox (10 & 6) have been Lewiston’s catalysts up front and Ryan Bossie (3 & 12) is the Blue Devils’ leader on defense.
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