LEWISTON — After a slow first period for the York High boys’ hockey team Wednesday night, Coach Jim Powers said he wasn’t too concerned.
“We lost the first period and we said, ‘What’s the big deal?’ ” Powers said. “‘We can come back.’ Lo and behold, we came back.”
After trailing 1-0 through the first, the second-ranked Wildcats rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory against fourth-seeded Greely in the Class B South final at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
York (17-2-1) will play Waterville (19-1), the defending champion, in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Colisee.
Jacob Martin scored twice for York before Andrew Bertolini won it in overtime.
“My teammates made the play and forced the puck up to me,” Bertolini said. “All I had to do was put it home.”
Freshmen Matt Kramlich and Jake MacDonald scored for Greely (14-7).
“They’re both really good young players and they’ve been producing all year,” Greely Coach Barry Mothes said. “They blended in really well with the veteran guys on the team.”
York defeated Greely 6-2 on Feb. 15, but the Rangers seemed to peak at the right time. They upset top-ranked Gardiner – which beat York twice in the regular season – in the semifinals.
Greely outshot York 13-3 in opening period. Penalties hurt the Wildcats, who gave up three power-play opportunities to the Rangers, including a major on Julius Lundgren for boarding. Kramlich capitalized with a goal from Colby Robinson with 1:41 left in the period.
“Coach said, ‘We need to stay out of the box,’ ” Bertolini said. ” ‘This is our game and we can get back in it.’ ”
The Wildcats then outshot the Rangers 12-5 in the second. Lundgren nearly scored for York in the first three minutes but his shot bounced off the crossbar. Martin finally scored from Maxwell Pickett to tie it with 9:15 left.
“The first period was obviously upside down with all the penalties we took,” Powers said. “But we turned the momentum around in the second period, and the third was a free-for-all.”
MacDonald pulled the Rangers back ahead with 13:25 left in regulation when he scored on Ryan Sullivan’s cross. But Martin kept the Wildcats alive with an unassisted, short-handed goal on a breakaway after forcing a turnover.
“Unfortunately, in the end we just didn’t take care of a couple pucks coming out from the back in the way that we needed to,” Mothes said. “Sometimes you survive those mistakes but we didn’t tonight.”
York goalie Keenan Gamache finished with 27 saves. Josh Lawless had 25 for Greely.
With 3:19 remaining in overtime, Bertolini scored for the Wildcats’ first regional title in six years.
York won its last regional championship in 2011 by downing Greely 6-4 before edging Brewer 4-3 for the state title.
“We have epic battles every time we get to the playoffs,” Powers said. “Some of them are heartbreaking and some are glorious.”
Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or: