WINSLOW, Maine — The Messalonskee Eagles’ top line put on a scoring clinic as they cruised past the Brewer Witches 12-1 in an Eastern Class B hockey semifinal Saturday night at Sukee Arena.
Messalonskee will move on to play Winslow in the regional final on Tuesday night at Alfond Arena in Orono. Winslow beat Waterville 5-2 in the other semifinal.
Messalonskee’s top line consists of forwards Jacob Dexter, Jared Cunningham, and Brandon Nale. The trio found the net a total of nine times on top of racking up 14 assists in the victory.
“We like to get ahead, and we like to stay ahead,” said Cunningham. “We don’t like to come from behind, so that’s our mentality.”
It was a first period to remember for Nale and Dexter as the goal-scoring tandem collectively added six goals and three assists to the mix.
Messalonskee coach Joseph Hague knew his first line would step up in a big way if needed.
“That line has been on fire the whole year,” Hague said. “Jared and Jake and Brandon have worked well together. They click really well. They have some great pass plays together, and they had 185 points combined throughout the year, so this isn’t something that is uncommon for us right now.”
Eight different Messalonskee players got at least a point in the contest.
The Eagles (17-1-0) came into the game atop the Eastern Class B while Brewer (8-7-3) came in as the four seed. Messalonskee defeated the Witches in both regular season matches by scores of 4-0 and 4-1, respectively.
The early scoring continued throughout the game, but the Witches were able to limit Messalonskee to just one goal in the second period.
After a second-period slump for the Eagles, they picked up where they left off in the first and scored five more to secure the victory.
The physicality of the game did not let up, however. Brewer consistently punished the Eagles in the corner boards nearing the end of the game. Eventually, tempers boiled over, and the Witches were handed a penalty at the end of the contest for hitting a Messalonskee player after the final goal was scored.
“At that point in time you know that games are going to get a little chippy and a little out of control,” said Hague. “Keeping our heads with the lead was a big part in the win tonight. Not making mistakes and keeping the foot on the pedal was important.”
Elija Tuell kept the Witches at bay for most of the game while registering 18 saves on 19 shots. The only goal Tuell allowed came off a shot by Dana Michaud late in the first period that prevented the senior goaltender from getting a shutout.
Opposite of Tuell, Tyler Friel minded the net for the Witches and recorded the majority of the saves before being pulled in favor of Drew Baker late in the third period.