January 3, 2013

BOYS HOCKEY: Eagles come out on top

By Bill Stewart bstewart@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINSLOW -- The Messalonskee and Brewer hockey teams renewed their rivalry Wednesday night nine months after they clashed in Orono for the Eastern B championship.

click image to enlarge

CHASE IT DOWN: Messalonskee’s Chase Cunningham (12) battles for the puck against Brewer on Wednesday at Sukee Arena in Winslow.

Staff photo by David Leaming

Not much separated them last March and not much separated them Wednesday at Sukee Arena, either.

Nate Nadeau and Tyler Simpson scored key third-period goals in support of a Chase Cunningham hat trick to lift Messalonskee to a come-from-behind 7-6 victory.

"It's a big win, especially against them," said Cunningham. "We showed something."

The victory vaults the Eagles (7-0-0) to the top of Eastern B, although coach Mike Latendresse said the race is just only beginning.

"I will not say we are the team to beat," he said. "Eastern B is very level. But this game was to see where we stand in Eastern B."

Spencer Valley scored a hat trick for Brewer (5-2-0), which couldn't protect a 4-2 lead in the second period.

"Weird game," Brewer coach David Shedd said. "It's all I can really say about it. It was a good hockey game between two evenly matched teams."

The teams were tied 4-4 after two periods and 5-5 two minutes into the third before the Eagles surged ahead.

Nadeau gave the Eagles the lead for good when he scored off a faceoff with 8 minutes, 24 seconds left in the third. Simpson made it 7-5 with a tip-in goal with 3:46 left.

Valley pulled Brewer within 7-6 about two minutes later, but Messalonskee held on late to secure the victory.

Messalonskee goalie Ben Weeks made 31 saves while Patrick Spaulding had 22.

Kalib Bernatchez and Jared Cunningham also scored for the Eagles.

Brewer threatened to put the game out of reach when it scored three goals in a three-minute span of the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. Valley scored two of those goals.

"I wanted to see what we were made of, which is why I didn't call a timeout," Latendresse said. "They showed some real character fighting back."

Bernatchez sparked the comeback when he beat Spaulding with a wraparound with 6:43 left in the second.

Chase Cunningham then scored the equalizer on a terrific individual effort about four minutes later with the Eagles short-handed.

Spaulding gained control of the puck and attempted to clear it out down the right side. However, Cunningham intercepted the pass, beat a defender wide and then ripped the puck past Spaulding with a well-placed wrister.

"I had a shot and I got him five-hole," Cunningham said.

Brewer carried play for much of the opening 15 minutes. It generated an abundance of scoring opportunities, particularly in the first seven minutes of the game, but Weeks and his steady defensemen kept the game scoreless.

Despite being out-played, it would be the Eagles who would jump out front first.

Brothers Chase and Jared Cunningham connected to give Messalonskee a 1-0 lead with 1:01 left in the first period.

Jared Cunningham, a freshman, fed the puck to Chase in front of Spaulding. Chase wasted little time tucking the puck between Spaulding's pads.

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