LEWISTON — Gorham High pulled upset after upset to reach the Class B boys’ hockey state championship game.

So when the Rams took a 1-0 lead Saturday in the first period over heavily favored Messalonskee, they got the Eagles’ attention.

And when Gorham charged ahead 2-0 on a short-handed goal at 6:32 of the second period, Messalonskee called a timeout.

“I told them, basically, to just settle down,” Messalonskee Coach Joe Hague said. “We had been doing real well, keeping the flow going.”

The Eagles responded – eventually. After getting one goal in the second period, they poured it on in the third, scoring six times to beat Gorham 7-2 at the Colisee.

It’s the second straight title for the Eagles (20-1), who also beat Gorham (14-6-2) in last year’s final.


Gorham got goals from Carl Bear and Travis Mansir, as well as a 29-save performance from Noah Bird, who kept the Rams in the game.

As expected, it was the Eagles’ top line that did the damage. Jake Dexter, Brandon Nale and Jared Cunningham combined for all seven goals – four of them in the last 41/2 minutes.

“They did what they do,” Gorham Coach Jon Portwine said.

But it took a while. Bird “played huge,” Portwine said. Defensemen Andrew Schmidt and Matt Hooker protected well, and Gorham’s forwards were creating chances.

“They came out flying, ready to play,” Hague said. “I think our boys were a little nervous.”

Gorham jumped ahead with a power-play goal 2:27 into the first period. Mansir found Bear open in the left circle, and Bear fired past a crowd, scoring inside the far post.


Messalonskee tried to answer quickly, but Bird stopped Dylan Burton’s blast from the left circle. The dangerous Cunningham was at the doorstep, but Bird blocked his back-handed stuff.

The Rams went on a second power play late in the period. Cunningham broke past a Gorham defender and skated in on a short-handed rush, but before he could get off a shot, Landry caught him and lifted his stick.

In the second period, Messalonskee went on its second power play. The Eagles sent the puck out to the point, but it bounced over a defenseman’s stick. Mansir pounced, gathered the puck and scored over the blocker of Elija Tuell (21 saves) at 6:32.

After the timeout, Messalonskee picked up the pressure. Bird blocked two close-range shots and poke-checked the puck away on another scoring bid.

When the Eagles got two forwards past the Rams’ defense they finally scored, with Nale making a back-door pass to Dexter, who stuffed it into an open net at 11:19.

Did the timeout fire up Dexter?


“I wasn’t even listening,” Dexter said. “I just knew we had to bring it … We knew our offense would put up points.”

Messalonskee outshot Gorham 11-6 in the second period, but the Rams still had the lead.

“Those were the best two periods we’ve played all season,” Portwine said. “I thought if we could get out to an early lead, maybe they would be in unfamiliar territory and do some undisciplined things. To their credit, they stuck to their game plan.”

Messalonskee got two power plays early in the third period and scored on both. The Eagles tied it on Dexter’s rebound of a Nale shot (2:21) and then went ahead when Nale buried a pass from Dexter (5:06).

“From there, the floodgates opened,” said Hague, whose team scored 27 goals in three playoff games.

And his top line finished the season with 109 goals.


“They have a great chemistry,” Hague said. “They work the puck well and they can also finish.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

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