Maine Hockey Journal

Waterville overtakes Messalonskee in Class B North

Waterville's Justin Wentworth (left) celebrates after scoring on Messalonskee's Amber Kochaver during their Class B North ice hockey championship at Alfond Arena in Orono on Tuesday (PHOTO: Ashley L. Conti|BDN)

Waterville’s Justin Wentworth (left) celebrates after scoring on Messalonskee’s Amber Kochaver during their Class B North ice hockey championship at Alfond Arena in Orono on Tuesday (PHOTO: Ashley L. Conti|BDN)

ORONO — In January, Waterville High School ended Messalonskee of Oakland’s unbeaten string against Class B opponents that had dated back to March 9, 2013, with a 6-5 win.

On Tuesday night, the Panthers ruined Messalonskee’s bid for a third straight Class B state championship by virtue of a convincing 5-2 triumph at Alfond Arena.

Late second-period goals 3:02 apart by senior right wing Michael Oliveira and junior center Justin Wentworth snapped a 1-1 tie after Messalonskee’s Jared Cunningham and Waterville’s Andrew Roderigue had swapped first-period goals.

Third-period power-play goals by Nick Denis and Jackson Aldrich sewed it up before Brandon Nale scored a power-play goal for Messalonskee with 1:10 left.

The Panthers scored three power-play goals including a five-on-three tally.

“We work on the power play all the time in practice,” said Waterville star defenseman Andrew Roderigue.

Junior Nathan Pinnette finished with saves for the 18-1-1 Panthers while freshman Amber Kochaver wound up with 27 for 13-6-2 Messalonskee.

Waterville will play for the state title at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Colisee in Lewiston against the winner of Wednesday night’s South final between Gardiner and Yarmouth.

It will be Waterville’s first appearance in a state game since it lost in the Class A final in 2010.

After a sluggish first period, the top-seeded Panthers completely dominated the second period to the tune of a 14-2 shots-on-goal advantage and finally broke through at the 10:19 mark.

Denis corralled the puck behind the net and spotted Oliveira in the high slot between the faceoff circles. Oliveira one-timed a low wrister that deflected in off Kochaver’s left skate.

Wentworth expanded the lead after first digging the puck out of his skate as he broke down the right wing.

His pass from the extended goal line went to Aldrich and Aldrich’s quick 16-foot wrister trickled through Kochaver’s pads and sat on the goal line. The alert Wentworth tapped it home.

“That goal at the end of the first period gave us momentum,” Oliveira said.

“After the first period, we talked about playing our game and getting back to basics,” said Denis who also had two assists.

“We came out with more intensity in the second period and started doing all of the little things we did all year,” said Waterville coach Dennis Martin whose team did a better job attacking the net and winning puck battles.

The Eagles were without standout senior defenseman Sam Bell due to illness and Cunningham said being without Bell and having to kill off a pair of five-minute majors was “pretty draining.”

The Eagles received another five-minute major in the third period and penalty troubles helped prevent them from mounting a comeback.

Denis made it 4-1 5:58 into the third period after Kochaver had stopped Cody Pellerin’s slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. The rebound spilled to Denis at the edge of the crease and he was able to tuck it into the net from a tough angle after getting control of it.

Aldrich made it 5-1 on a five-on-three 3:36 later when he was set up in the slot by Wentworth and sailed a 16-foot wrister past Kochaver.

The Eagles had the better of the play in the first period and took a deserved lead at the 9:49 mark when the school’s all-time leading scorer, Cunningham, converted a Nale feed.

But a five-minute boarding major on Messalonskee just 29 seconds later gave the Panthers some energy and Roderigue equalized with just 10 seconds left in the period.

Denis was knocked down trying to carry the puck to the net down the right-wing side and the puck continued behind the net. Oliveira tracked it down on the other side of the net and fed a precise pass to Roderigue in the low slot and he one-timed a 10-footer past Kochaver’s blocker.

“I saw the opening and [Oliveira] passed it out to me,” said Roderigue. “I think if we hadn’t scored, we would have been down in the locker room after the period.”

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