Thornton Academy goalie Drew Johnson makes a save during a Jan. 13 game against Lewiston. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in the Class A semifinals. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Three boys’ hockey teams that played in the 2023 Class A semifinals will be making a return trip to Cross Insurance Arena for this year’s semifinals. The Class B South finalists, however, are both making their first appearance in the regional championship.

All of those games will take place Wednesday at Cross Arena in Portland. The tripleheader begins at 4 p.m. with a Class A semifinal between No. 7 Portland/South Portland (10-8-1) and No. 3 Bangor (13-5-1). That will be followed at 6 p.m. by a Class A semifinal between No. 5 Thornton Academy (13-6), the defending state champion, and top-seeded Lewiston (15-4). The night concludes with the Class B South final between No. 2 Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester (17-3), known by the acronym PLOG, and No. 1 Cheverus/Yarmouth (16-2-2).

State championship games in Class A and B are planned for Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Throughout the season, no powerhouse team emerged in Class A. Joe Robinson, co-head coach of Portland/South Portland, thinks any of the four remaining teams can win the title.

“It’s totally up in the air,” said Robinson, who coached the co-op’s previous incarnation as South Portland/Waynflete/Freeport to the Class A final last season. “It’s exciting.”

The Portland/South Portland Beacons, playing in their first year as co-op of Portland, Deering, South Portland and Waynflete, advanced with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over No. 2 St. Dominic on Saturday. Junior goalie Michael Zaccaria made 44 saves in the win. When the Beacons and Bangor met in the regular season, a 0-0 tie on Feb. 15, Zaccaria made 37 saves.


“Michael, he’s been top notch back there in the net,” Robinson said. “No matter what, he’s always square to the puck.”

Portland/South Portland’s Toby Lappin skates toward the goal during a Feb. 8 game against Scarborough. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Beacons have helped Zaccaria with a strong defensive effort, particularly in the neutral zone. Robinson also said experience, especially in team leaders Toby Lappin, a forward, and Hewitt Sykes, a defenseman, has been a key. Both Lappin and Sykes are making their third straight trip to the semifinals, and aren’t fazed by the bigger crowds at Cross Arena.

Bangor, the Beacons’ opponent, is a strong defensive team. The Rams advanced with a 5-0 quarterfinal win over Marshwood/Traip/Sanford/Noble, with goalie Cody McCue earning his third shutout of the season. Most teams have size or speed, Robinson said, but the Rams have both.

Thornton and Lewiston met once in the regular season, a 2-1 Lewiston win on Jan. 13. This is Lewiston’s first trip to the semifinals since winning the state championship in 2020. Five of the Blue Devils’ goals in their 7-4 quarterfinal win over Windham/Westbrook/Bonny Eagle were scored by freshmen or sophomores. Senior Dylan Blue scored a pair of goals in the win, and leads the team with 15.

Thornton survived a four-overtime marathon against Falmouth to advance, with Jake Skillings scoring the game-winner. It was a return to early season form for the Golden Trojans, who lost four of their final five regular-season games. This game features two of the top goalies in Class A. Thornton’s Drew Johnson brings a 1.89 goals-against average and .924 save percentage, and stopped 53 shots in the four-OT win over Falmouth. Lewiston’s Gabe Pomerleau boats a 1.59 goals-against average and .933 save percentage with five shutouts.

The Class B South final features the two hottest teams in the state. PLOG comes in with a 15-game win streak, while Cheverus/Yarmouth is 11-0-2 over its last 13 games


Quinn McCoy of Cheverus/Yarmouth drives with the puck during a Jan. 22 game against Cape Elizabeth. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Cheverus/Yarmouth earned a pair of 3-1 wins over PLOG in the regular season, but each came in the first two weeks of the season. Both teams have evolved and improved since then, Cheverus/Yarmouth Coach Dave St. Pierre said.

“We haven’t seen them since December, but Jason (Rouleau, the PLOG coach) has done a fabulous job building that program,” St. Pierre said.

The PLOG co-op formed in 2016, Rouleau said after Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime victory over York in the semifinals. The Kings two playoff wins this season are the first two playoff wins in program history.

“Every win makes history for us,” Rouleau said. “We’ve got a tough battle coming up Wednesday night.”

This game will pit the Kings’ strong offense, which has scored at least four goals in each of the last 12 games, against an experienced Cheverus/Yarmouth defense, led by seniors David Swift and Ian O’Connor, two of the top defensemen in the region. Will Keach, Conner Boulay and Brody Emond each have at least 21 goals to pace the Kings. Cheverus/Yarmouth has spread out its offense, with 18 players scoring a goal.

“We get contributions up and down the lineup,” St. Pierre said. “We can run three lines and six defensemen.”

Sophomore goalie Ethan Tucker has been sharp for Cheverus/Yarmouth throughout the season, with a goals-against average of 1.59 and a .910 save percentage.

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