LEWISTON, Maine — Nate Young admitted feeling the heat of the moment as he prepared for Saturday’s Class B ice hockey state championship match at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The sophomore forward for the Old Town-Orono cooperative team was being asked to fill big shoes with classmate Sam Henderson sidelined for the day as the result of a boarding penalty he was assessed during the team’s regional-final victory over Presque Isle earlier in the week.
“I played a lot more, 10 to 11 shifts more than I usually do,” he said. “I felt a little pressure, but my teammates were there for me through the whole thing. They really boosted me. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Not only did Young’s teammates from Old Town and Orono high schools boost him during the state final, but his play boosted the Black Bears. He assisted on both the tying and championship-winning goals as the Black Bears rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Greely of Cumberland Center 3-2 in overtime.
“He just came out and played with heart,” said Old Town-Orono senior captain Jake Dubay, who also assisted on Ben Allan-Rahill’s title-clinching goal 3:52 into overtime. “That’s all that we ask of our guys, to come out and give it everything they have.”
Henderson was one of the team’s leading scorers this winter with 15 goals and 17 assists, and his absence meant that Young not only had to go out and play error-free hockey in his expanded role, but provide an additional offensive spark for the Black Bears.
“With Sam being out I really had to stand up, and I think I did a decent job of that,” Young said. “It was really a momentum boost having Sam out, we wanted to win for him.”
Old Town-Orono coach Denis Collins said Young was one of three candidates ready to step in for Henderson.
“At the beginning of the year, we said everybody had to be ready even if you’re not on the first or second line,” Collins said. “One of our better players, Sam Henderson, was out, but he was the biggest cheerleader we had and Nate Young stepped in and did what he had to do, and that’s the gift of being deep.”
Old Town-Orono spotted Greely a 2-0 lead on goals 31 seconds apart midway through the first period before sophomore Tyler McCannell scored for the Black Bears off the rebound of a shot by Dubay later in the period.
But despite being frustrated after being held scoreless on a 53-second 5-on-3 advantage as well more than four minutes of a regular power play at the end of the first period and start of the second, Old Town-Orono settled in offensively and Young ultimately helped the Black Bears cash in on that momentum.
First came the equalizer, with Young taking a faceoff in the right offensive circle to set up McCannell’s second goal of the match on a shot from just outside the circle 5:32 into the third period.
“Before that two guys got kicked out of the faceoff circle so I had to take it,” Young said. “The plan was to just move it forward, so we did that and it just bounced back to Tyler, and he put it in.”
Then came the championship goal in sudden-death overtime, with Young setting off the decisive rush after gaining control.
“I was about mid-ice and gave it right to Dubay, and he took it up and crossed it and Ben shot and got the rebound and scored,” Young said. “From where I was, I saw [Allan-Rahill] was wide open. I was probably high slot and the goalie was out of the net and Ben was wide open for the goal.
“We come from different towns, but we work like we’re one,” Young added. “Our chemistry is really high out there.”
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