BREWER, Maine — On paper, Saturday afternoon’s high school hockey game between host Brewer and Presque Isle was a mismatch.
Brewer is a perennial Eastern Maine Class B power and was 2-0 while Presque Isle had allowed a whopping 40 goals while going 1-3.
But it took a late, third-period shorthanded goal by senior defenseman Jake Caron and an insurance goal 2:08 later by junior right wing Gehrig White to subdue the Wildcats 3-1 at the Penobscot Ice Arena.
Presque Isle outworked the Witches over the first two periods and had the better of the scoring chances only to be thwarted by senior goalie Patrick Spaulding, who finished with 26 saves.
PI outshot Brewer 18-10 over the first 30 minutes and 27-18 for the game.
Sophomore left wing Gabe Valley staked Brewer to a 1-0 lead with a shorthanded goal late in the first period but junior center Tyler Seeley leveled the scoreline in the second period.
Brewer was more energetic in the third period and Caron notched his game-winner with 5:42 remaining.
Gabe Valley got off a weak shot from the high slot that fortuitously found its way to the left circle where Caron wheeled around and swept a low shot inside the far post.
“I wasn’t facing the net and that’s probably what confused the goalie (Oliver Gerrish),” said Caron. “I spun around a little bit and threw it in. It found its way to an open area of the net on the far side.”
White and linemates Gabe Valley and cousin Spencer Valley collaborated on the clinching goal with a sustained forecheck leading to a net-front flurry and a White rebound score.
Spencer Valley fed it to his cousin for the initial shot from just beyond the crease but Gerrish made a nice reaction save with his right pad.
“It came out to me, the goalie was on the other side and I stuffed it in,” said White.
Although they were outshot 9-8 in the third period, Brewer did a much better job cycling the puck in the offensive zone and limiting Presque Isle’s high-percentage shots in the final 15 minutes.
“We stepped it up a little bit in the third period,” said Gabe Valley.
“We had a hard practice Friday night and the majority of the team was pretty sore but we didn’t want to lose,” said White.
“We had a pretty good-looking third period,” said Brewer coach Dave Shedd. “I skated them hard the past two nights, probably harder than I should have.
“But Presque Isle is a hard-skating team. My hat goes off to them,” added Shedd.
Gabe Valley’s first-period goal came on a breakaway as he fired a 20-foot wrist shot past the right pad of Gerrish. Jack Schroder assisted on the goal.
But Seeley answered 3:11 in the second period when he stole the puck in the low slot and snuck a quick wrister through Spaulding’s pads.
“We skated three lines for the first time this season and, taking that under consideration, I thought we did pretty well,” said PI coach Carl Flynn. “I was happy with the way we played. We outshot them and limited their number of shots.”
“We knew we needed to come in and play good team defense and that’s what we did today,” said standout PI sophomore defenseman Colin McKay. “That shorthanded goal (by Caron) killed us.”
“It was a moral victory for us,” said PI senior right wing and captain Adam Flynn.
Shedd noted that Spaulding was “very good when we needed him.”
“I was focused,” said Spaulding. “Presque Isle skated really hard and had a lot of good shots. They made me work for it.”
Freshman Gerrish wound up with 15 saves.