ORONO, Maine — The Camden Hills Windjammers erupted for three goals in the first 2:37 of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and go on to post a 5-2 victory in the Class B North hockey championship game at Alfond Arena in Orono.
The 13-4 Windjammers were playing in their first regional final since 2013 and Hampden Academy was in its first one since 2003. Camden Hills will face Brunswick in Saturday’s 1 p.m. state title game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.
Rory Carlson broke the tie just 24 seconds into the final period and senior defense partner Elias Libby made it 4-2 just 30 seconds later. Aiden Aselton added an insurance goal at the 2:37 mark when his centering pass from behind the net glanced into the net off a Bronco positioned in front of his net. It was his fifth.
Carlson scored the game-winner off a nice setup by Jakob Johnson, who was able to get past a Bronco in a race for a loose puck and shovel a pass across the slot to Carlson, who swatted the puck past Broncos goalie Aaron Donavan.
“Me and Jacob have gotten a couple of goals like that before — him doing all the fancy stuff and I’m just crashing the net,” said Carlson, who was moved up front to play on a line with Johnson for the third period. “He passed it to me and I just put it in.”
Just seconds later, Libby skated down the left wing on a two-on-one after squeezing past a Broncos defenseman and he snapped a rising wrister into the short side corner.
That gave the Windjammers momentum and Aselton’s goal fueled the momentum. Camden Hills outshot Hampden Academy 17-2 in the third period.
Clockwise from left: Hampden’s Maxwell Fleming reaches for the puck around Camden Hills’ Owen McManus in third period action of the Class B North championship game Wednesday at Alfond Arena; Camden Hills’ Rory Carlson checks Hampden’s Matthew Shayne into the boards; Hampden’s Keith Brooks (97) scores on Camden Hills’ Jackson Bernier in the first period; The Camden Hills student section cheer for their team. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
“The third period is always our period,” Johnson said. “We went into the locker room knowing we have a lot of seniors on the team and that is one of our last games so we all put our heads together and worked as hard as we could.
Hampden coach Eric MacDonald said the Windjammers got the momentum with those early third-period goals “and we couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
“They were the better team in the third period,” said Hampden senior center Khaleb Hale.
Jackson Bernier turned in an exceptional 28-save performance while Donavan finished with 27 stops for the Broncos including several third-period gems to keep his team within striking distance.
“Without [Bernier], they wouldn’t have won this game,” said Hale.
The Windjammers’ lack of discipline cost them dearly in the first period. Camden Hills carried the play early and appeared to have a strong foothold on the game, producing the game’s first six shots on goal, and taking a 2-0 lead on goals 1:53 apart by Owen McManus and Emmet Marshall. It was McManus’ 17th of the season and Marshall’s 12th.
But four penalties in a span of 3:22 late in the period, including a five-minute hitting-from-behind major on Cam Brown, gave the Broncos a series of 5-on-3 power plays and they capitalized to tie it on goals 1:06 apart by Keith Brooks and Cameron Henderson.
McManus opened the scoring at the 4:19 mark when he was positioned in the slot and Libby’s wrist shot from the right glanced off the shaft of his stick and carried over the shoulder of Donavan into the far corner.
Johnson set up Marshall’s goal as he busted down the left wing, fought off a check and shoveled a perfect pass across the crease to Marshall, who simply had to tap it in.
But then the penalties began eto mount and Hampden Academy drew level with the two-man advantage. Brooks finished off a nifty passing sequence involving Hale and Morgan Tash by directing a diagonal pass behind Bernier from the edge of the crease.
Henderson knotted it up with a screened wrist shot from the midpoint off a Hale feed.
The Broncos had the better of the play in the second period, outshooting Camden Hills 12-6 and creating more high-percentage scoring opportunities but Bernier was stout and made a host of terrific saves, including a few multiple-shot flurries, to keep the game tied.