March 1, 2013

EASTERN B BOYS HOCKEY: Top-seeded Messalonskee ready to go

By Bill Stewart
Staff Writer

The wait is over.

click image to enlarge

PLAYOFF CHASE BEGINS: Chase Cunningham (12) and the Messalonskee Eagles take on Hampden Academy in an Eastern B boys hockey semifinal game at 4:45 p.m. today at Sukee Arena in Winslow.

Staff file photo by David Leaming

Saturday, at Sukee Arena

G4: No. 1 Messalonskee vs. No. 4 Hampden, 4:45 p.m.
G5: No. 2 John Bapst vs. No. 6 Presque Isle, 7:15 p.m.

Regional final
Tuesday, at Alfond Arena, Orono

G4 winner vs. G5 winner, 7 p.m.

The top-seeded Messalonskee boys hockey team will host No. 4 Hampden Academy in an Eastern B semifinal game Saturday at 4:45 p.m. in Sukee Arena.

Messalonskee (16-2-0), which earned a bye to the semifinals, hasn’t played in a week.

“We had a little time to rest,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “We’ll be ready.”

The other semifinal pits No. 3 John Bapst (13-5-1) against No. 6 Presque Isle (9-9-1) at 7:15 p.m.

Messalonskee swept the regular season series from Hampden (12-7-0), winning 6-5 and 8-1.
Latendresse said he expects a tight, physical game with the Broncos, who beat Orono 5-4 in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

“I believe we’ll see the team we faced down in Hampden (6-5),” he said. “I believe we’ll see the team we saw against Orono. The last game we played them (8-1), I think we played extremely well and they did not play well. I’d be very surprised if we had that same  scenario played out again.”

Luther Vom Eigen leads the Broncos with 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points. Senior captain Cooper Antone is second on the team in scoring with 27 points (19 goals, 8 assists). They skate on different lines for the Broncos.

“We’re obviously a big underdog,” Hampden coach Bill Schwarz said. “But we’ll show up and do the best we can do. We like being the underdog. We don’t get much respect, but that’s OK. We’re used to that.”

The Eagles have one of the most explosive tandems in Eastern B, brothers Chase and Jared Cunningham.

Chase Cunningham, a senior, leads the team with 65 points (29 goals, 36 assists). Jared has 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points. Linemate J.T. Towle has 16 goals and 25 assists and 41 points.

Schwarz said the Cunninghams present a big-time challenge.

“We have to keep our eyes on them,” he said. “We can’t let them get loose. They like to look backdoor so we’ll have to keep somebody there. We might do a little something different this time around.

“We’ll also have to have outstanding goaltending and we’ll need to play well in our end. Offensively, we’re going to have to get good shots on their goalie.”

The Eagles and Broncos can skate three lines, but the benches often shorten come the playoffs.

Latendresse said Hampden can adapt to play different styles of games, which presents its own set of challenges.

“They don’t have real big size but they can play different types of games,” he said. “They have a solid two lines and are a hard-working team. They are very blue collar. They have a few different styles they play. They can be physical if they want to be. There is a little bit of a combination with what they can do.”

Presque Isle upset No. 3 Brewer 7-6 in overtime Tuesday night. John Bapst reached the semifinals with a 4-1 win over Lawrence.

The Wildcats and Crusaders played two tight games in the regular season. John Bapst won 5-3 before the teams tied 2-2 in the regular season finale.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

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