Thursday, December 5, 2013
By BILL STEWART Kennebec Journal
WINSLOW — Messalonskee has fielded plenty of competitive hockey teams since its varsity inception in 1994, but never before has it reached a regional championship game.
Sam Dexter scored four goals to push his total this season to 44 and Nate DelGiudice stopped all 22 shots he faced as No. 2 Messalonskee beat No. 3 Presque Isle 8-0 in an Eastern Class B semifinal Saturday night at Sukee Arena.
"This is the best team I've had in 10 years," Messalonskee Coach Mike Latendresse said. "We made history for Messalonskee. We should be proud of that."
Messalonskee (17-3), which moved from Eastern A to Eastern B this season, will play in the regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Maine.
"We're going to enjoy this one but we will be ready for Tuesday," said Dexter, who leads the team with 70 points. "It feels great. We're getting closer and closer."
Josh Towle scored a pair of goals and Travis St. Pierre added three assists for the Eagles, who scored four goals in the third period to put the Wildcats away.
Presque Isle, which was 3-0 in its previous three Eastern Class B semifinal appearances, finished 12-9. Nick Davis had 24 saves for the Wildcats.
"Goaltending was the difference," Presque Isle Coach Dr. Carl Flynn said. "We needed some momentum and we could never get any. I don't think they overwhelmed us with their speed, and conditioning-wise we stayed with them. But they came up with the big goals."
Dexter finished his hat trick just 1:14 into the third period on a beautiful give-and-go with Chase Cunningham to make it a 5-0 game.
"Chase is an unbelievable passer," Dexter said. "I'm very fortunate to have him on my line. It was one of a lot of plays he's made all year. For him to get that pass across, it was awesome."
The Eagles led 2-0 after the first period before Dexter scored just 47 seconds into the second. Dexter, coming down the slot, took a pass from Cunningham, beat two defenders and then roofed the puck past Davis to the far upper corner.
Messalonskee raced out to a 1-0 lead just 1:34 into the game when Josh Towle stuffed a rebound past Davis to the near post. Dom Dexter set up the goal with a blast from the right point. Davis made the initial save but couldn't smother the puck.
"The puck was under the pad but it got knocked out," Towle said. "It was there and I just put it in."
DelGiudice was spectacular in net, coming up with several stops on quality shots. None was bigger than the one he made on Alex Michaud with 9:25 left in the first and the Eagles leading just 1-0. Michaud took a pass from Tyler Seeley in the high slot and ripped the puck toward the upper far corner. However, DelGiudice snared the puck with his glove to keep it a 1-0 game.
"I was in good position," he said, "and I just got the glove up."
Kalib Bernatchez and James Varney also scored for Messalonskee.