WINSLOW — The Lawrence/Skowhegan hockey team entered the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in Eastern A, having won seven of its last eight games.
That made the 1-0 setback to Brunswick in a quarterfinal game Tuesday all the more disheartening for the upstart Bandits.
“It’s really tough,” Lawrence/Skowhegan coach Ted Fabian said. “It’s tough because of the season we had. We were clicking.”
But the run ended thanks to a second-period goal from Matt Brooks, a 25-save performance from goalie Blake Alexander and a tough defensive showing from No. 5 Brunswick (10-7-2).
The Dragons will next play top-seeded Bangor (15-3-0) in a regional semifinal game Saturday at 5 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Goalie Sam Edmondson had 30 saves for No. 4 Lawrence/Skowhegan, which finished 12-7-0.
“We didn’t quit,” Fabian said. “It was a great season. We came together as two communities. It’s just tough to have it end.”
The evenly-matched teams had ample scoring chances but the game remained scoreless until Brooks beat Edmondson with 3 minutes, 37 seconds left in the second period.
Tyler Sullivan, stationed out to the right of the net, chipped the puck to Brooks, who cut across the low slot and tucked the puck into the back of the net.
“(Sullivan) picked up the puck and I called for it,” Brooks said. “I was on the left side, and when I got the puck I made a little move and shot it to the far side.”
Alexander and the Brunswick defense did the rest, silencing the quick-skating Bandits the rest of the way.
“It was a classic playoff game,” Brunswick coach Mike Routhier said. “We came out gung-ho and so did they. I think our experience was a factor, though. We have a lot of mileage on this team.”
The Bandits had a few chances to pull even in the final five minutes of the third period, but Alexander came up with a few big saves to preserve the lead.
The teams played at a frantic pace in the opening period, particularly in a wild final six minutes.
But the game stayed scoreless thanks to both goaltenders.
Alexander stoned Trey Michonski with a chest save with 5:38 left in the period.
Michonski took a pass from Nelson at the offensive blue line, circled down the left side and ripped a shot that was headed to the far post.
However, Alexander slid across the crease to make the stop.
“We had our chances,” Fabian said. “We just couldn’t capitalize. We just couldn’t get that one bounce.”
About a minute later Edmondson came up with a big save on Ryan Maciejewski, whose one-timer from the low slot appeared headed for the back of the net.
Edmondson then stopped Maciejewski again, this time on a mini two-on-one rush, with 3:32 left in the period.
“We gave it everything we had,” Fabian said. “All game long we had our chances but we just couldn’t get one in. It was tough.”