With the Class A and B regional hockey championship games coming up, it is obvious how the west will be won:

Defense.

In the Class A game at 6 p.m. tonight, top-seeded Biddeford’s high-octane offense faces its toughest test, the stingy defense of No. 2 Thornton Academy. The game is at the Colisee at Lewiston. It will be followed by the Eastern Class A final between Waterville and St. Dominic.

The Western Class B game also is at the Colisee, at 7 p.m. Wednesday. No. 4 Yarmouth will have to put in a peak defensive effort against No. 1 York.

 

BIDDEFORD VS. THORNTON: The teams have split their two contests this season, and both teams come in with 17-2-1 records.

Everything points to a close game tonight.

The Tigers, led by forward Trevor Fleurent (29 goals, 25 assists) can score goals in bunches. They average 5.26 goals per game, while allowing 2.11.

Thornton, anchored by goalie Ricky Hebb (1.22 goals-against average), has allowed only 1.21 goals per game, while scoring 4.42.

Both teams have deep benches. The Trojans pride themselves on using three defense pairings.

“They stay fresh,” Thornton Coach Shawn Rousseau said.

In the Trojans’ 4-1 semifinal win over Falmouth, the dangerous Yachtsmen kept creating chances but saw many of their shots swatted away before they got to Hebb.

Biddeford’s strength is when Fleurent is on the ice. But Tigers Coach Rich Reissfelder knows better than to rely only on offensive might.

In a two-week span, from Jan. 23 to Feb. 6, the Tigers lost two games and tied another, allowing 11 goals — including a 5-3 loss to Thornton.

“When we went through that stretch of games, we were really undisciplined as far as positional play,” Reissfelder said. “That’s one of our big focuses now, thinking about ‘Where am I?’ and ‘Where am I supposed to be?’ and putting aside ‘Let’s score five goals.’

“Let’s prevent them from scoring and we don’t need (to score) as many.”

 

YARMOUTH VS. YORK: The Wildcats lost their first Class B game this year, to Cape Elizabeth, and haven’t lost another. That streak includes two wins over Yarmouth, 7-1 and 5-1.

In the second meeting, York manhandled an injury-depleted Yarmouth team, outshooting the Clippers 49-5.

“We got destroyed,” Yarmouth Coach Marc Halsted said.

But the Clippers (10-9) have some momentum. They’ve won five straight, including a 3-1 upset of No. 2 Camden Hills in the semifinals.

In three previous games against Camden Hills, including a preseason contest, the Clippers were outshot 91-49. In the playoff game, Yarmouth held a 37-18 advantage.

Halsted said conditioning has been an emphasis lately, which makes for better defense. “Reduce the gaps and reduce the spacing,” he said.

Yarmouth will need such an effort against York (16-3).

“They’re bigger, faster, stronger and older,” Halsted said. “We need to play with the same passion (as against Camden Hills).”

The Clippers’ scoring has been led by Alex Kurtz (18 goals, 19 assists), Marshall Brunelle (11-14), Joey King (7-6) and Davis Brown (6-4).

Senior forward Steven Petrovek (4-7) missed 10 games with a torn labrum, but he played in the Camden Hills game “on fumes and guts,” Halsted said.

While Yarmouth is enjoying a rebirth of its program, York has become an overwhelming favorite with a nine-game winning streak.

The Wildcats feature a deep team, led by its top line of David Figlioli, Craig Decato and Paddy Murphy.

 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]