ORONO, Maine — The defending three-time Class B North champion Old Town-Orono Black Bears found themselves trailing Brewer 1-0 after two periods of their Class B North quarterfinal at Alfond Arena Wednesday night.
But the Black Bears’ potent power play jump-started a third period rally that gave the third-seeded Black Bears a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Witches before a lively crowd.
Old Town-Orono, 13-4, will now take on No. 2 Hampden Academy, 14-3, in a Saturday semifinal at Sawyer Arena at 3:40 p.m.
Brewer wound up 8-9-1.
Grady Vanidestine’s 17th goal of the season staked Brewer to a 1-0 lead just 2:32 into the game and that lead lasted until 57 seconds into the third period when senior center Adam Henderson scored a five-on-three power play goal.
Old Town-Orono came into the game with a blistering power play percentage of 36.7 percent and Henderson fired home a rebound after brothers Jacob and Dylan Davis had their shots stopped.
Jacob Davis’ shot was blocked by a defenseman and Dylan’s was kicked out by Brewer goalie Andrew Donald but Henderson was perched in the low slot and converted.
“The rebound came right to me and there was an open net. I just threw it in,” said Henderson, whose goal was his eighth of the season.
“When we went on the five-on-three, I said we have to score here or we’re going to have a mountain to climb.” said Old Town-Orono coach Chris Thurlow.
Perry Collatos broke the tie 1:58 later when he took a cross-ice pass from Noah Thibodeau and quickly released a wrist shot that popped into the net off the glove of Brewer goalie Andrew Donald.
It was his third goal of the season.
“There was a (Brewer player) in front of me and he was screening his goalie. I took a shot from beside his leg and I went top corner with it. It hit the goalie’s glove and went in,” said Collatos.
“This was Perry’s best game of the season and we needed it because they shut down our top line,” said Thurlow referring to the Davis brothers and Blaine Murray.
Ian Bouchard got an important insurance goal at the 10:25 mark as he swiped a Collatos pass between Donald’s pads during a wild flurry around the net.
Vanidestine opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that beat Old Town-Orono goalie Aidan Rand to the far side.
Rands rebound save off Ethan DelMonaco later in the period to keep it a one-goal deficit.
The Witches turned in an exemplary defensive performance through the first two periods.
The Witches limited the Black Bears to one shot at a time as they diligently protected their net front, clearing Black Bears and any loose pucks.
Donald wasn’t required to make any difficult saves and was well-positioned to make routine stops.
The Black Bears got most of their scoring chances off faceoffs but Donald was equal to the task and he rarely had a screen to contend with.
Old Town-Orono did start playing with a sense of urgency late in the period and mounted some of their most sustained pressure.
Rand finished with 22 saves and Donald made 32 stops.
“We knew we had to dig deep in the third period,” said Henderson.
Thurlow said Brewer played very well. His Black Bears had beaten them 5-1 and 7-1 during the regular season.
“Brewer completely outplayed us in the first period and the second period was a draw,” said Thurlow, whose team outshot Brewer 17-6 in the third period.
“We played well. We had a few breakdowns but, overall, we competed well,” said Brewer coach Lance Ingerson. “We had a few injuries for a few minutes that definitely hurt us. But once we got everybody back, we competed at the end.”