ORONO — Chase Cunningham scored a hat trick, including two goals in the third period, and top-ranked Messalonskee rolled into the Class B state title game with a 7-2 victory Tuesday night against second-seeded John Bapst at Alfond Arena.

“It feels great,” Cunningham said, “but the next one is the one we want.”

“We played really solid,” said Coach Mike Latendresse. “That was a really good game for us. We stayed with the game plan. We finished everything.”

Jared Cunningham, J.T. Towle, Dylan Burton and Corey Foye also scored for Messalonskee, which had four unanswered goals in the third period to break open a 3-1 game.

The Eagles (18-2) will play Greely or Camden Hills, who meet in the Western Class B final at 7 p.m. Wednesday, in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lewiston.

“It was fun to be here,” John Bapst Coach Gene Fadrigon said.

Chase Cunningham scored two goals 24 seconds apart early in the third period after John Bapst (14-6-1) cut it to 3-1. Cunningham put the Eagles up 4-1 when he converted a mini-breakaway at 4:19 of the period.

“That was a big goal,” he said. “I just came down and beat (John Bapst goalie Jaron Leonard) high.”

Added Fadrigon, whose team was outshot 27-15: “The fourth goal, that was it.”

Chase Cunningham buried another goal seconds later when he beat defenseman Josiah Simko in the right circle and roofed the puck over Leonard’s left shoulder.

“We’ve been focusing on burying every opportunity we get,” Latendresse said.

The Eagles led 2-0 after the first period on goals from the Cunningham brothers, then scored with 24.4 seconds left in the second.

Chase Cunningham cut through the slot into the right circle and fed the puck to Foye, who had circled to the front. Foye took the pass and ripped the puck on a hard wrist shot through traffic.

“That third goal, that was the back-breaker in my opinion,” Fadrigon said. “They scored rush goals. I don’t think we played our best game of the season.”

The goal came after Ben Weeks made a handful of key saves to keep the Crusaders scoreless.

Weeks robbed Jacob Fletcher twice in a 40-second span late in the period. He needed every inch of his pad on the second one, which came with 3:06 left in the second, as Fletcher tried to bang a rebound home to the near post.


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