Seventh-year Hampden Academy hockey coach Eric MacDonald and fourth-year Camden Hills coach John Magri said there are no secrets behind their teams’ success.
And now each team is one win away from a berth in the Class B state championship game as they prepare to face each other in the Class B North title game at the Alfond Arena in Orono on Wednesday night at 6.
The winner will face the B South champ, which will be decided Tuesday evening between defending two-time B state champ Greely of Cumberland Center and Brunswick.
This will be Hampden Academy’s first appearance in a regional final since 2003 while Camden Hills will be making its first one since 2013 when the Windjammers lost to Greely in the B West final.
“We are peaking at the right time,” said Magri, who feels his 12-4 team wears opponents down. “We have become a team that has gelled and has been outworking everybody. I think we’re the most well-conditioned team in the league.”
Each has won eight of its last nine games including two playoff games as Hampden Academy ousted Presque Isle 6-2 and defending three-time Class B North champ Old Town-Orono 3-2, while Camden Hills topped John Bapst of Bangor 2-0 and Gardiner 9-1.
The Windjammers have benefited from the recent return of sophomore center Cam Brown, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier this season.
Magri said Brown’s return enables him to skate three lines instead of two, which keeps his players fresher. And Magri said Brown is quick and skilled so his third line, which also includes Lucas Wyman and Alden Howard, is capable of scoring.
Brown scored a goal in each playoff win.
There is no shortage of firepower on the top two lines.
Jacob Johnson, who had 11 goals and four assists during the regular season, has erupted for five goals in the playoffs and is flanked by Camden Powell on the right side and the Kurzius brothers, Alex and Billy, on the left side. Magri alternates the brothers as each brings a different skillset to the table.
Camden Hills has two double-digit goal scorers on the other line with sophomores Owen McManus (14 goals, 4 assists) and Emmet Marshall (10 & 6) flanking Zanni Sabatini.
McManus has two playoff goals.
Magri considers Elias Libby (3 & 10) to be the best defenseman in Class B North. The senior is joined on the blue line by Aiden Aselton (3 & 2), Rory Carlson (3 & 2) and Owen Hotchkin.
Goalie Jackson Bernier, who had a 1.75 goals-against average during the regular season and a .921 save percentage, has allowed just one playoff goal.
Hampden Academy has been led by a pair of seniors, center Khaleb Hale (13 & 13) and defenseman Cameron Henderson (9 & 16).
“They are great leaders,” said MacDonald. “They want everyone to work hard in practice and to bring that into the game.”
Besides Hale and Henderson, they have also received 12 goals and 9 assists from Matthew Shayne during the regular season, 8 & 18 from Morgan Tash, 9 & 7 from Keith Brooks, 6 & 1 from Lucas Dunn and 5 & 2 from Adrian Webb.
Webb, Tucker Leland and Tash scored against Old Town-Orono. Tash had a hat trick against Presque Isle with Hale adding a pair and Dunn scoring the other.
Hale, Tash and Dunn are linemates with Brooks, Shayne and Johnny Vickery (2 & 3) composing another line. Webb plays on the third line or can jump in on one of the other two lines.
Maxwell Fleming (5 & 9) accompanies Henderson on the blue line along with Leland (3 & 2).
Aaron Donavan has had an outstanding year between the pipes with a 1.18 GAA and a .944 save percentage during the regular season. He had backed up Cooper Ryan for two years before getting his chance to start.
The teams once during the regular season with Hampden Academy triumphing 3-1 in Rockport on Jan. 26.
“It was one of those games where our guys weren’t engaged. It was disappointing,” Magri said. “Hampden is always well-coached and they always seem to have a few franchise players who are dangerous. And their goalie has done very well.”
MacDonald called Camden Hills a “really good team.”
“They’re physical. We’re going to have to work extremely hard,” MacDonald said.