Sunday, December 8, 2013
WINSLOW — How long does it take to turn a comfortable lead into an insurmountable one? In Tuesday’s Eastern Class B quarterfinal between Messalonskee and John Bapst, it took seven seconds.
Messalonskee scored a pair of goals seven seconds apart in the final minute of the second period, turning a three-goal lead into a five-goal cushion on its way to a 6-1 win.
No. 2 Messalonskee (16-3) will face No. 3 Presque Isle in the semifinals Saturday at Sukee Arena. No. 7 John Bapst ended the season 8-11.
“We’re all about big momentum swings. I think our offense is generated around that, big plays, fast breaks,” said Messalonskee senior Sam Dexter, who scored a pair of goals and assisted on another. “We were great in transition tonight, and that’s the difference in these kinds of games.”
Dexter beat John Bapst goalie Carl Rydell to the blocker side at 14:02 of the second period to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
Messalonskee won the ensuing faceoff, and James Varney snapped a quick wrist shot over the glove of Rydell.
The Eagles also scored in the final minute of the first period. Varney tapped in a pass from Chase Cunningham from behind the net with 12 seconds left to push the lead to 3-0.
“That’s really tough to come back from. Instead of (John Bapst) going into the locker room down 2-0, it’s 3-0, and then it’s 5-0. For us, those are big, big goals,” Messalonskee Coach Mike Latendresse said.
Dexter gave Messalonskee a 1-0 lead 5:44 into the game when he beat a Crusader defender and lifted a shot over Jaron Leonard, who played the first and third periods in net for John Bapst. Josh Towle made it 2-0 when he slid a shot between Leonard’s legs at 12:56.
The Crusaders had a few chances in the first period but never got off a good shot against Messalonskee goalie Nate DelGiudice.
“In the first period, there were a few scary situations, but the defense held strong and played good in front of me,” said DelGiudice, who had 17 saves. “Defense did a good job keeping them to the outside."
Added Latendresse: “Defensively, they gave us a hard time, and we knew they would pressure hard. When we faced them a couple weeks ago they had done that.”
John Bapst finally scored at 7:26 of the third when Joey Pate went just under the crossbar to make it 5-1. The Eagles answered 32 seconds later when Varney completed his hat trick with a short-handed breakaway goal.
Messalonskee took just four penalties, but three came in the third period, and that’s something that can’t happen as the Eagles advance in the playoffs, Latendresse said.
“We had three in a row in the last eight minutes. When you kill three in the last eight minutes, the game was pretty much over at that point, but you don’t want to be in that position,” Latendresse said.
Late in the second period, Messalonskee’s Shawn Veilleux went down behind his own net. He skated to the locker room with some help, but Latendresse said Veilleux is questionable for Saturday’s game.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242