ORONO — Depth and balance allowed the Waterville hockey team to remain unbeaten against Class B opponents Tuesday night with a 5-2 win over Messalonskee in the Class B North championship game at Alfond Arena.

The top-seeded Purple Panthers (18-1-1) wore down four-time defending regional champion Messalonskee (13-6-2) and will face either Gardiner or Yarmouth in the Class B title game at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Gardiner and Yarmouth play at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“We had a rough path coming here last year. We lost a tough one (to Winslow in the semifinals) and this year we were determined,” Waterville senior Nick Denis said. “We’re not done, we’re going to keep rolling and see how it goes.”

Michael Oliveira paced Waterville with a pair of goals, and Denis had a goal and two assists. Justin Wentworth and Jackson Aldrich each had a goal and an assist.

Jared Cunningham had both goals for No. 3 Messalonskee.

“I’m just embracing it at this point,” Oliveira said. “I really don’t have any words to describe it. It’s just awesome.”

The Eagles took a deliberate approach in the opening period and that paid off with 5:12 to play in the period when Brandon Nale chased down a loose puck along the boards and skated behind Waterville’s goal. Nale waited a moment and ultimately found Cunningham out front for the score.

Messalonskee continued to control the tempo until a 5-minute penalty on Dylan Brown for boarding with 4:42 remaining in the period.

The Eagles, who were once again without starting defenseman Sam Bell (illness), nearly killed off the penalty but with 10.2 seconds left in the period Oliveira slipped behind a defender and scored off an assist from Andrew Roderigue to make it 1-1.

“Momentum changes in big games like this,” Cunningham said. “We came out pretty hot and we were ready and I don’t know.

“…When you’ve got to kill 5-minute penalties it’s just draining you. You’re using everything you can to kill that off just to get five-on-five just to keep going back. It’s tough and they just got some momentum going.”

Waterville carried that momentum into the second and outshot the Eagles 14-2. The Panthers made good on all those chances with just under five minutes remaining in the period when Denis scooped up a loose puck behind the net and found Oliveira out front to give Waterville the lead for good.

“Nick just threw it out to me and I hit it one time,” Oliveira said. “It stayed right on the ice and ended up in the back of the net.”

Wentworth scored what would prove to be the winning goal with 1:39 remaining in the period when he rammed home a rebound with the puck sitting just in front of the goal line after Messalonskee goalie Amber Kochaver (28 saves) could not cover up a rebound.

“We got out to a flat start in the second and they got a couple quick goals there,” Cunningham said. “They just got the momentum and we just couldn’t come back.”