Several close games and unpredictable outcomes during the regular season make the 2016 Maine boys’ hockey playoffs difficult to get a handle on.

Yarmouth is the No. 1 seed in Class B South, but Clippers Coach David St. Pierre knows his team is not an overwhelming favorite.

“It’s pretty wide open,” he said.

The same words apply to Class A.

“It’s wide open based on what we’ve seen over the last month,” said Biddeford Coach Rich Reissfelder, whose Tigers played two games apiece against the state’s top four teams.

Fifth-seeded Biddeford opened the playoffs Monday in Portland and lost to No. 4 Cheverus 6-5 in overtime.

It was similar to last year when Biddeford was seeded No. 5 and the Tigers lost in overtime to No. 4 Scarborough. The Storm went on to win the state title – upsetting No. 1 Falmouth, No. 2 Cheverus and beating St. Dominic in overtime for the championship.

Scarborough (13-2-3) is the No. 1 seed in the South this time. The Red Storm are likely to reach the region semifinals on Saturday but, after that, who knows? Scarborough finished its schedule 0-2-1, with losses to St. Dominic and Falmouth.

No. 2 Falmouth (14-4) seems to be coming on. The Yachtsmen did lose to Lewiston two weeks ago, and to St. Dom’s two weeks before that, but both were one-goal games.

Thornton Academy (11-6-1) is the surprise team after not reaching the playoffs last year. But the Trojans are experienced and freshman goalie Seth Dube has been a pleasant addition.

“Falmouth is bigger, more physical,” Reissfelder said. “A team like Scarborough never, ever stops. They work and work – which is why they win so many close games.

“And you can’t count out TA either. They have great depth and Dube.”

Cheverus (9-9-1) has been an up-and-down team, but the Stags have beaten Falmouth and tied Scarborough 2-2 last month, with the Red Storm needing a last-second goal to avoid a loss.

In the North, No. 1 Lewiston (14-2-2) looked like the team to beat, “but we played Dom’s the other night and they looked fantastic,” said Reissfelder, whose Tigers lost 8-4 to the Saints last week.

Lewiston routed St. Dom’s 6-1 on Jan. 2, but a win Jan. 30 was much closer (3-2). The Blue Devils have also tied Scarborough twice – which could set up an intriguing state championship game, if the No. 1 seeds hold.

Lewiston ended its schedule with a 1-0 loss to No. 4 Bangor (9-7-2). The Rams are a dangerous team because of the stellar play of junior goalie Derek Fournier.

No. 3 Edward Little (10-8) has split with Bangor and St. Dom’s this year, but was routed twice by Lewiston, 10-0 and 10-2.

St. Dom’s (10-7-1) is the wild card here. The Saints looked to be rebuilding, going 4-5 in the first half of the schedule, but now look capable of a third-straight state championship appearance.

Class B South (formerly West) traditionally been tight a tight division – such as last year when sixth-seeded Gorham zipped through the playoffs to the state title game.

“It seems to be the same as last year with teams (seeded) 1 through 7 able to make a case (to contend),” St. Pierre said.

Yarmouth is a good proof of that. The Clippers (14-4) may be the top seed, but they are 2-2 in their last four games, losing to No. 3 Brunswick (9-8-1) and No. 6 Cape Elizabeth (7-9-2).

The Capers could be this year’s surprise team. They played a tough schedule (four losses to Class A teams) and have beaten each of the top three seeds once, including No. 2 Gardiner (13-4-1).

“Anybody can beat anybody,” Cape Elizabeth Coach Matthew Buotte said. “It is the most wide-open region I have seen in a long time.”

No. 4 York (11-7) and No. 5 Kennebunk (9-8-1) are among the contenders.

Defending regional champion Gorham (7-11) is seeded seventh.

In Class B North, two-time defending state champion Messalonskee may be dethroned. The Eagles (11-5-2) are the No. 3 seed, behind No. 2 Camden Hills (15-3) and No. 1 Waterville (16-1-1).

The Panthers’ only loss this season was to Lewiston.


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