WINSLOW — The Waterville boys’ hockey team had never lost a game when leading after two periods this season.
Presque Isle changed that in dramatic fashion Saturday.
Senior defenseman Andrew Michaud blasted a one-timer past goalie Kaleb Kane with 2:45 remaining as second-seeded Presque Isle edged No. 3 Waterville 5-4 in an Eastern Class B semifinal at Sukee Arena.
“Crazy,” Michaud said. “Just a wild game.”
Michaud scored two goals and Jillian Flynn stopped 22 shots as the Wildcats (13-5-1) advanced to the regional final Tuesday night at the University of Maine.
Chris Lee had as goal and two assists for the Purple Panthers (11-8-1). Nick Denis collected two goals and Tommy Samson also scored for Waterville.
“It’s frustrating,” Waterville Coach Dennis Martin said. “We wanted a chance at a championship. It’s a tough loss, especially when you have the lead in the third period.”
Waterville led 4-3 heading into the third before Cooper Madore’s power-play goal tied it with 5:31 left.
Michaud then buried the winner after taking a nice pass from Alex Michaud.
“We practice the play every day in practice,” Andrew Michaud said. “Alex takes the puck behind the net and draws everyone to one side. I pinch down and try for the one-timer.”
“Down 4-3 after two periods, we were confident we’d get a couple more goals,” Presque Isle Coach Carl Flynn said. “We knew it’d be a tight game, and it was.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period and 3-3 late in the second before Samson pulled Waterville ahead with a power-play goal. Lee took a shot from the right point and Samson, who was stationed in front to the left of Flynn, redirected the puck into the net with 3.5 seconds remaining in what was a wild second period.
“We were playing really well,” Martin said. “We had the lead and felt pretty good going into the third.”
Presque Isle took a 3-2 lead just three minutes into the second when Tyler Seeley beat Kane with a low wrist shot from the left wing.
But Denis answered for Waterville, taking a nice pass from Andrew Rodrigue through center ice, charging down the right side and beating Flynn with a hard wrist shot.
Waterville grabbed a 1-0 lead just 4:18 into the game when Lee, after taking a pass from Oliveira, came out of the right corner and ripped a tough-angle shot that deflected off Flynn’s pads and into the net.
“I think we were a little nervous at the start,” Carl Flynn said. “We’re used to being the underdogs here wearing our dark jerseys. Wearing our whites, I think we were a little anxious at the start.”
The Wildcats then went on the offensive. Joseph Patenaude converted a rebound to tie the game, and Presque Isle surged ahead just 43 seconds later with a power-play goal by Andrew Michaud. The Presque Isle forward took a pass from Michael Michaud at the left point, skated in toward the circle and fired a shot through a screen into the top corner.
Presque Isle held the lead until the final minute of the period, when Waterville pulled even on a Denis goal. Lee won an offensive zone faceoff to the right of Flynn, and Denis scored on a shot to the near side.
Bill Stewart — 621-5640