ORONO, Maine — Defending Class B state champ Waterville High School led just once in Tuesday night’s Class B North championship game against Old Town-Orono but it came when it counted the most.

Senior center Justin Wentworth scored 3:22 into overtime to supply Waterville with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory at Alfond Arena.

The senior-laden Purple Panthers (19-1) play in Saturday’s state final at the Colisee in Lewiston against the winner of Wednesday’s South final between York and Greely of Cumberland Center.

Old Town-Orono wound up 16-3-2, with all three losses coming to Waterville.

Nathan Pinnette made 13 saves for Waterville while Brenden Gasaway had 36 stops for the Black Bears.

The resilient Panthers erased two, two-goal deficits and a pair of one-goal deficits in the third period to force overtime on senior defenseman Andrew Roderigue’s goal with 5:01 remaining.

In the overtime, the Purple Panthers had a sustained forecheck and Wentworth, a 43-goal scorer, missed a wide-open net when his one-timer off a Jackson Aldrich pass hit the outside of the near post.

But Roderigue tracked the puck down behind the net and passed it to Wentworth in the low slot and his one-timer snuck through Gasaway and carried into the net.

“After I hit the post, I knew I had to get the puck back,” said Wentworth. “Our goal was to keep the puck in the zone and get as many shots as we could. I got back to the slot and just whacked at it and it happened to go in. It went through [Gasaway’s] armpit.”

Wentworth said the comeback is a credit to their perseverance.

“We have huge heart. We’re a family on and off the ice,” said Wentworth who called Old Town-Orono a “great team. They played great.”

The opportunistic Black Bears took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Tyler Wheeler and Jacob Gallon.

Aldrich got one back for Waterville early in the second period but Jacob Dubay’s power-play goal restored the two-goal lead just 1:40 later.

Zaharias Menoudakaros answered for Waterville to make it 3-2 entering the intermission.

Cooper Hart tied it for Waterville 1:38 into the third period and that sparked a wild scoring flurry of four goals in 4:20.

Nick Boutin gave Old Town-Orono a 4-3 lead but Waterville’s Chase Wheeler tied it up again.

Gallon scored again for the Black Bears to cap the flurry.

But Roderigue got the equalizer when his quick 25-foot wrister from the middle of the slot off a Wentworth pass sailed past the left skate of Gasaway.

The Purple Panthers carried the play in the early going but the Black Bears took the lead against the run of play at the 9:47 mark when Wheeler pounced on a loose puck in the right circle and swatted the puck toward the net.

The puck hit the top of Pinnette’s glove and flipped into the net.

Just after Waterville hit its second post of the game, the Black Bears expanded the lead with 1:04 left in the period.

Josh Wheeler flipped a pass out of the defensive zone to Boutin breaking down the right wing. He flipped the puck to Gallon, who roofed a one-timer into the short-side corner.

Aldrich opened the second-period scoring with a strange goal.

The puck sat in the right faceoff circle among a pair of Black Bears and Aldrich took a swipe at the puck and it glanced off a stick and past Gasaway.

But Old Town-Orono answered 1:40 later on the power play when Old Town-Orono won a faceoff to Pinnette’s left and the puck landed on the stick of Dubay at the top of the circle.

His first shot was saved by Pinnette but the rebound spilled to the middle of the slot and the alert Dubay followed his shot, pulled the puck around Pinnette and slid it home.

The Purple Panthers swarmed the Old Town-Orono net trying to claw their way back into it only to have Gasaway repeatedly thwart them with a number of top-shelf saves.

The Purple Panthers were rewarded for their relentless pressure when Menoudarakos skated into the zone and fired a 40-foot wrist shot that beat Gasaway to the short side past his blocker.

Hart tied it early in the third with a short wrister off a 3-on-2 but Boutin answered by swiping home a rebound.

Chase Wheeler tied it with a wrister from the point but Gallon regained the lead by tapping a Boutin pass into an open net.

“This was a tough loss. We played very well,” said Old Town-Orono senior defenseman Austin Sheehan. “We put everything we had into it. We were just the lesser team tonight. It was a well-deserved win for them.”

“We played a great game,” said Black Bears senior right wing Tyler Wheeler. “I’m extremely proud of the way we played. Nobody on our team should have any regrets.”