Playoffs continue for girls’ hockey tonight and, as usual, goaltending plays a huge role.

Biddeford High will rely on a goalie who could barely get down to stop a puck last year, let alone get up quickly.

“I really wasn’t that good,” said Emily Brassley. “It was a mess.”

But Brassley has come a long way. She will lead the fourth-seeded Tigers (8-10-1) onto the ice today at 5 p.m. to play No. 2 York (14-3-2) in the West championship game at the Portland Ice Arena.

The East final between top-seed St. Dominic (18-1) and No. 3 Greely (12-6-1) will follow at 7. The winners will meet for the state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Colisee in Lewiston.

The fact Biddeford is even considering a run for a second state final in three years is amazing. The Tigers pulled off the upset of the season, beating top-seeded Scarborough 2-1 in overtime last Friday.

The Red Storm can thank Brassley, a junior, who made 36 saves, some of them spectacular.

“She just played on her head,” Biddeford Coach Marie Potvin said. “She was aggressive. She was all over the place. She was on her belly, making poke saves to the corner, then popping up.”

Brassley remembers one in particular.

“I left a rebound,” she said. “I was down, all out. I just put my stick down. The puck was right there. I was like, ‘oh, man,’ and I just swept it away.”

Pretty good moves for a player who was a forward her freshman year but volunteered to try goalie as a sophomore, playing for the junior varsity.

“With all the padding, I couldn’t really function well,” Brassley said. “I couldn’t keep track of the puck. I didn’t have my angles down. The whole dropping thing wasn’t working; neither was getting back up quickly.”

Brassley attended a camp at Kents Hill last summer. She learned the craft and kept working at it.

And with Brassley, attitude is everything.

“She has such a great demeanor,” Potvin said. “She is so positive. She is great for the team

“I think some of the things she did (against Scarborough) inspired her teammates to really work hard in front of her.”

The Tigers will need to work hard today. York has defeated Biddeford twice this season, 3-0 in December and 7-0 two weeks ago.

“We can beat them,” Brassley said.

 

BIDDEFORD HAS so much confidence in Brassley, it used an all-state goalie at forward. Brandee LeClair, who was the Tigers’ goalie when they reached the state final in 2009, is back with the team after playing elsewhere.

With Brassley in net, LeClair is playing on the top line with Jenna Roy and Haley Reny. That line scored both goals against Scarborough.

 

YORK FEATURES a solid defense with goalie Olivia Drew and a group of defensemen who can move the puck. The Wildcats have shut out their last five opponents: Yarmouth, Biddeford, Scarborough, Portland and Cheverus.

Offensively, York was bolstered by Hannah Keating moving to forward from defense. Nicci Heroux and Rachel Yorke are also threats.

 

THE GREELY game against St. Dominic should be a thriller based on the teams’ two previous meetings.

The Saints won both, scoring late in regulation for a 6-5 win in December and then 3-2 in overtime last month.

St. Dominic has a dynamo roster led by all-state players Sophie Goulet and Marisa Zamrock and Hebron Academy transfer Lauren Ratsep, but Greely has a defense that could contain the Saints.

The Rangers can choose from two strong goalies – Maggie Bower or Emma Seymour – and rely on a solid, stay-at-home defenseman, Casey Benner.

Greely also rolls out an impressive group of forwards led by Michaela Finnegan, Ceci Hodgkins, Page Tuller and Meg Finlay.

This is the third year girls’ hockey has been sanctioned by the Maine Principals’ Association. Lewiston beat Biddeford for the 2009 title and Cheverus beat Lewiston last year.

 

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