LEWISTON — Fourth-seeded Greely used a solid forecheck to knock top-seeded Gardiner off its game and rolled to a 5-2 win in a Class B South boys’ hockey semifinal Friday night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Jake MacDonald and Andrew Moore each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers won for the 11th time in their past 12 games.
Greely (14-6) will play No. 2 York (16-2-1) for the regional title at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Colisee.
“Their forecheck was strong,” Gardiner Coach Sam Moore said. “They’re quick and they move the puck well. Our passes weren’t as sharp as they needed to be coming out of our zone. Our forwards weren’t moving their feet.
“You know, we’ve not been playing for the past two weeks, and our rust kind of showed in the first period.”
Greely Coach Barry Mothes said the development of his team’s forecheck was the main reason for the Rangers’ late-season surge.
“There’s nothing too magical about it,” he said, “I think the key behind it is just the effort, using our foot speed to pressure the puck hard and get on people and sort of force them to make multiple plays.”
The Rangers opened the scoring four minutes into the game when MacDonald slammed a rebound into the left side after goalie Michael Poirier used his blocker to stop Jackson Williams’ shot from the right circle during a two-on-two break.
One of the Tigers’ best scoring opportunities came during the final two minutes of the first period when Ryan Kelley broke in alone while his team was trying to kill the first penalty of the game. When the senior forward moved past the last defender at the top of the slot, goalie Josh Lawless slid out of the crease to break up the rush.
Early in a the second period, just after Gardiner finished killing the penalty, Ryan Megathlin made it 2-0. He stuffed the puck into the net after it had caromed of the back board when Ryan Sullivan’s shot went wide.
Five minutes into the second period, Gardiner defenseman Connor Manter put in a blast from out high, but the Rangers went ahead by two again less than a minute later on a goal by Matt Kramlich.
With less than five minutes left in the second, Jack Saffian, Greely’s captain, put in rebound for a power-play goal.
Moore and Gardiner’s Cameron Bigelow each had a goal in the final minute of the game.
Lawless made 28 saves.
“Our goaltender had another composed, steady game,” Mothes said. “It’s not like he had to play out of his (skates), but things kind of stuck to him, and there weren’t any rebounds.”
The teams split two regular-season games.
On Dec. 10, Gardiner (13-6) opened the season with a 3-2 win over the Rangers at the Ice Vault in Hallowell. On Feb. 7, Greely eked out a 5-4 win over the Tigers at Family Ice Center in Falmouth.