LEWISTON – York Coach Michael Vessey knows what others are thinking, that his team has little chance against powerful, unbeaten and defending state champion Brewer High in today’s state Class B boys’ hockey championship at the Colisee.

That’s fine with Vessey, who is not making any predictions.

How do the underdog Wildcats (15-5) match up against Brewer (19-0-1)?

“I’ll let you know after the game,” Vessey said with a smile.

Vessey and York faced Brewer in last year’s Class B title game, with the Witches scoring two power-play goals on their way to a 3-1 win. Brewer also won the 2007 state title, beating Greely 4-3.

Brewer graduated its goalie and top forward line from last year, but the Witches are hardly rebuilding, as their record attests.

Their one non-victory was a 4-4 tie in December against Falmouth, one of the top Class A teams in the state.

Brewer also handily beat Class A rival Bangor 9-3 and 7-4. The playoffs have been a cruise, with an 8-0 win over Lawrence, and 10-0 over Houlton.

The Witches can score goals. Their No. 2 line of last year is now their No. 1 line. Tyler White, Evan Nadeau and Jacob Chapman have combined for 74 goals.

The second line of Spencer Valley, Lucas Lamond and Kyle Alexander have scored 57 goals.

Vessey has heard all about the Witches’ domination — as well as seeing it first-hand last year. He is not planning to install a last-minute new strategy.

“All season long, we’ve played our game,” Vessey said. “If we need to, we adjust during the game.”

Lately, what the Wildcats have been doing is working. They have won 12 of their last 13 games.

And while Brewer averages an eye-popping 7.67 goals a game, York is not far behind at 6.67.

Like Brewer, York graduated some good scorers but brings back a group of others, led by Anthony Figlioli and Craig Decato.

When York beat Greely 6-4 in the Western Class B final on Wednesday, Decato scored a hat trick. One of his goals was a rebound of his own shot during a short-handed rush. Right behind Decato was a diving Figlioli, ready to knock in the puck if his teammate couldn’t.

They are the Wildcats’ 1-2 punch.

“Everything is clicking,” Decato said. Figlioli “is a good skater, is good with the puck and has a really good shot.”

Vessey thought his pair was contained by Greely’s defense in the first period.

“You could see every time Craig or Anthony touched the puck, Greely was running two guys at him,” Vessey said. “They needed to stop trying to beat people one on one.”

The duo become more dangerous as the game went on. Figlioli now has 28 goals and 21 assists; Decato has 20 and 28.

“They have been our go-to forwards all season, especially with Anthony’s shooting ability and Craig’s ability to set him up,” Vessey said. “They see the ice and each other very, very well. They know where the other player is going to be.

“But it’s tough to key on just those two, because at least half our games we’ve had five or six different scorers.”

Other top-scoring York forwards include Jared Clauson (22 points), Dillon Dellapasqua (18), George Lindbom (15), Shane Hughes (14), Ryan Curtin (13) and Zach Franklin (11).

Defenseman Conor O’Brien (22 points) is strong on both ends of the ice, as is Wes Warner (15 points).

The Wildcats’ special teams have improved all season and scored three goals (two power-play, one short-hander) against Greely.

Backing up the defense is goalie Alex Ahrikenchikh (1.87 goals-against average and a 92 save percentage). Against Greely, Ahrikenchikh left a few rebounds out front but for the most part gave up few rebounds, while also stopping some point-blank efforts.

Ahrikenchikh is sure to see his share of shots from Brewer. The favored Witches are a strong group.

How will York match up? We’ll see.

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

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