Old Town-Orono players celebrate after beating Presque Isle 6-2 on March 5, 2020, for the Class B North boys hockey title at Alfond Arena in Orono. Credit: Nina Mahaleris / BDN

Coach Chris Thurlow’s Old Town-Orono Black Bears will begin their title defense on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they host Brewer in a quarterfinal matchup at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena.

Old Town-Orono, 12-4 and the defending three-time Class B North champions, is the third seed, while 8-8-1 Brewer is sixth.

In the other quarterfinals, No. 2 Hampden Academy, riding a five-game winning streak including two victories over Old Town-Orono (2-1, 4-1), will host No. 10 Presque Isle (4-13) at Bangor’s Sawyer Arena at 7 p.m. No. 4 Camden Hills (10-4) will entertain No. 5 John Bapst of Bangor (9-7-1) at the MidCoast Recreation Center in Rockport at 7 p.m. and top seed Messalonskee of Oakland (10-2-1) will face off against No. 8 Gardiner (7-9) at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell at 6 p.m.

Presque Isle upset No. 7 Cony/Monmouth/Erskine/Mt. Blue Richmond 8-4 in a preliminary round game, Brewer ousted No. 11 Houlton/Hodgdon/Greater Houlton Christian Academy 7-2 and Gardiner eliminated No. 9 Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain/Hall-Dale/Lawrence 4-1.

In Class A, the Bangor High School Rams wound up 14-3 and earned the second seed behind 16-2 Edward Little High School of Auburn. Both teams earned first-round byes.

Bangor will host the winner of the preliminary round game between No. 7 Scarborough (9-8-1) and No. 10 Portland/Deering (6-10) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 6:30 pm. at Sawyer Ice Arena.

Thurlow said this is the most parity he has seen in B North in his four years behind the Black Bear bench.

“It’s pretty wide open,” he said. “There have always been a few [favorites] but it is a little deeper this year. You can make an argument for any of the eight teams that are left.”

Hampden Academy’s Broncos are the hottest team coming into the playoffs with their five straight wins.

“They played us tough. The first game was close but the second time out they completely outplayed us for all three periods,” Thurlow said. “It wasn’t a great effort by us.”

He said forward Khaleb Hale (13 goals, 13 assists) and defenseman Cameron Henderson (9 & 16) are Hampden Academy’s catalysts.

“Khaleb Hale is one of the better forwards in the league. He’s good around the net. He has a knack for scoring,” Thurlow said. “Henderson has a blast from the point and creates offense by getting the puck to the net.”

The Black Bears went 3-3 in their last six games and Thurlow said his team is going to have to play better than it did in those six games to make it four regional titles in a row.

“I like the fact we have 10 players who have significant playoff experience,” Thurlow said.

Old Town-Orono has been led by the Davis brothers, linemates Jacob (20 & 13) and Dylan (11 & 13) along with defenseman Connor McCannell (6 & 8).

Brewer has won four of its last five including a 5-0 win over a John Bapst team that upset Messalonskee 5-0.

“Brewer has been really coming on. They’re going to be a tough opponent,” Thurlow said.

Grady Vanidestine (16 & 18), Nick Lamprecht (8 & 9) and defenseman Jed Gilpatrick (6 & 10) have led the Witches, who lost 5-1 and 7-1 to Old Town-Orono during the regular season.

In addition to Hale and Henderson, Hampden has been sparked by Matthew Shyne (17 & 9), Morgan Tash (8 & 18) and goalie Aaron Donovan (1.18 goals-against average, .944 save percentage).

Presque Isle, which lost to Hampden 8-0 and 7-2 during the season, features Dawson Kinney (14 & 6), Garrett LeTourneau (11 & 6) and Jonah Roy (5 & 13).

Camden Hills had a five-game winning streak snapped by Old Town-Orono 2-0 in the regular season finale while John Bapst had a four-game victory skein ended by Brewer 5-0.

Camden Hills has three players with double-digit goals in Owen McManus (14 & 4), Jakob Johnson (11 & 4) and Emmet Marshall (10 & 6). Goalie Jackson Bernier has a 1.75 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

Carter Walls (10 & 14), Aiden Dunn (11 & 6) and defenseman Caleb Robbins (5 & 11) have guided John Bapst, which lost its only meeting with Camden Hills 5-3.

Messalonskee beat Gardiner 5-3 and 5-0 during the season and its catalysts have been Owen Kirk (17 & 13) and Bryce Crowell (16 & 12) along with Brandon Bearce (4 & 16).

Garret Doyle (14 & 7), Camdyn Lasselle (5 & 10) and Connor Whitley (9 & 5) are Gardiner’s top point-producers.