DOVER, N.H. – Hannah Keating of York moved from defense to forward five games ago.

“It gives us a little more offensive punch,” York Coach Kevin Banfield said.

You could say that.

In the closing minutes of York’s girls’ hockey playoff game Saturday night against Cheverus, Keating scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone, raced in and shot into the upper right corner.

The goal at 11:21 gave York a 1-0 win in a West semifinal at Dover Arena.

York (14-3-2), the No. 2 seed, will meet fourth-ranked Biddeford in the West final Wednesday at Portland Ice Arena.

Biddeford upset top-ranked Scarborough in the other semifinal Friday.

Third-seeded Cheverus (11-7-1) was the defending state champ. Despite the better seeding this year, York had never beaten the Stags.

“Many years of frustration,” Banfield said. “We’ve had good teams in the past but we’ve never been able to get them. We were fortunate tonight. But we knew it was going to be a tight game.”

Tight and exciting. Two penalties and a pulled goalie gave Cheverus a six-on-three advantage for the last 30 seconds. But the Wildcats held on.

York, which lost to Cheverus 2-0 on Jan. 3, then tied the Stags 1-1 three weeks ago, enjoyed a 23-16 shot advantage, but Stags goalie Taylor Witham was superb.

In the first period, Keating had a breakaway that Witham stopped. Then Cheverus had a breakaway, and York’s Olivia Drew (16 saves) was in position, as usual.

The Stags had three shots in the first period.

“Offense hasn’t been our strength,” Stags Coach J.P. Lavoie. “We’ve been surviving on good defense and good goaltending, and then a few opportunities here and there.

“Our kids have come a long way. I thought we had a few good chances but we couldn’t get it by the goalie. She had a good game, too.”

York, as it often does when it faces a talented player, geared its defense to stop Katie Roy, shadowing her the whole game.

“She can hurt any team,” Banfield said. “We thought if we took her out, we’d have a good shot at it.”

York was called for two penalties while covering Roy, and Roy went to the box late in the second period.

The Wildcats teed off during the power play with six shots, most of them point-blank. But Witham was there.

“Taylor was the heart of this team all year and she was again tonight,” Lavoie said. “She kept us in this game.”

Both teams featured stellar defensemen — Tori and Sammy Stocks for York, and Emily Sawchuck, Anna McDonough and Sarah LaQuerre for Cheverus.

A break would decide the winner and Keating created it.

York shut out Biddeford twice during the regular season, 3-0 on Dec. 1 and 7-0 on Jan. 29. Banfield will make sure his team doesn’t get too inflated.

“Playoffs, it’s a whole different game,” Banfield said. “Doesn’t matter who we beat. Everyone elevates their game.”

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]