The Gardiner hockey team is playing its best hockey of the season to keep its slim playoff hopes afloat.
The playoffs seemed a longshot at best two weeks ago for the Tigers (4-9-0), but a three-game winning streak has changed the outlook.
“We have a lot of games left against teams above us,” Gardiner coach Jeff Ross said.
The Tigers scored their most impressive victory of the season Saturday night, when they edged Eastern B playoff contender John Bapst 3-2 in overtime at Sawyer Arena in Bangor.
Senior captain Alex Nadeau scored all three goals to give him five in his last two games.
“Nadeau has gone to the next level,” Ross said. “He’s starting to be that guy we knew he could be. He’s never had to be the lean-on guy and it took him awhile to find it. He had a great game against John Bapst. They are a quality team. This is by far the greatest we’ve played all year. It was an unbelievable team game. We played good, old fashioned Gardiner hockey. We out-worked them, out-battled them.”
Senior goalie Brad Moore hads 33 saves.
“The two guys we really lean on came through,” Ross said. “They’ve been guys on a mission.”
Gardiner played at Kennebunk on Monday night.
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Maranacook/Winthrop has lost five of its last six games and suddenly finds itself in danger of missing the Western B playoffs.
The Hawks (5-8-0) hold a slim lead over York for the seventh and final playoff berth.
The Wildcats (5-9-0) blanked the Hawks 6-0 last week.
Maranacook/Winthrop will close the season with games against Camden (10-3-1), Cape Elizabeth (6-9-1), Leavitt (6-9-0) and Windham (4-7-1).
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Messalonskee (14-0-0) will likely head into the postseason as the No. 1 seed in Eastern B for the second straight season.
The Eagles, the two-time defending Eastern B champs, have scored at least six goals in their last seven games. They hold a more-than-comfortable cushion over No. 2 Presque Isle (10-5-1) heading into play Monday.
Messalonskee will receive another strong test Saturday, when it travels to Falmouth Ice Center to face two-time defending Class B state champ Greely (7-5-3).
“We’re very curious to see them,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “They are playing some really good hockey at the right time of the year. This will let us know where we stand.”
The Rangers started slow but have climbed into first place after earning big wins over Camden, Kennebunk and Gorham. Greely has won all four meetings with Messalonskee the last two seasons, including in consecutive state finals.
Latendresse said he’s scouted Greely a few times this season already.
“We’ll see them again Thursday,” he added. “We’ll go down and watch them play (Yarmouth) so we can help better prepare our players.”
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The Winslow boys are closing in on their first playoff berth with three games left in the regular season.
The Black Raiders (8-7-0), who’ve won more games this season then in their previous two combined, finish the season with big games against Hampden (6-7-2) and Brewer (6-7-1) this week.
“We’re right in the middle of it somewhere,” Winslow first-year coach Andy Dube said. “We have a good shot at the playoffs and maybe even a home ice berth.”
The top two teams in Eastern B will receive byes to the semifinals.
Winslow entered play Monday sitting fourth behind Waterville (10-5-1) and Presque Isle (10-5-1).
“If we win out we may have a chance,” Dube said.
Winslow could also receive a boost this week with the return of steady defenseman Dalton Thompson, who’s been out with a shoulder injury.