WINSLOW — The Waterville hockey team had never lost a game when leading after two periods this season.
Presque Isle changed that in dramatic fashion Saturday.
Senior captain defenseman Andrew Michaud blasted a one-timer past goalie Kaleb Kane with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in regulation and No. 2 Presque Isle held on late to edge No. 3 Waterville 5-4 in an entertaining Eastern B semifinal at Sukee Arena.
“Crazy,” Michaud said. “Just a wild game.”
Michaud scored two goals and Jillian Flynn stopped 22 shots as the Wildcats (13-5-1) advanced to the Eastern B final Tuesday night at the University of Maine.
Chris Lee had as goal and two assists for the Purple Panthers (11-8-1). Nick Denis had two goals and Tommy Samson also scored for Waterville.
“It’s frustrating,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “We wanted a chance at a championship. It’s a tough loss, especially when you have the lead in the third period.”
Waterville led 4-3 heading into the third before Cooper Madore tied it for Presque Isle with a power play goal with 5:31 left in regulation.
Michaud then buried the game-winner less than three minutes after taking a nice pass from Alex Michaud (no relation).
“We practice the play every day in practice,” Andrew Michaud said. “Alex takes the puck behind the net and draws everyone to one side. I pinch down and try for the one-timer.”
Michaud got it and ripped the puck through a crowd, past Kane and into the net.
“Down 4-3 after two periods, we were confident we’d get a couple more goals,” Presque Isle coach Dr. Carl Flynn said. “We knew it’d be a tight game, and it was.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period and 3-3 late in the second before Samson pulled Waterville ahead with a power play goal.
Lee took a shot from the right point and Samson, who was stationed out front to the left of Flynn, redirected the puck into the back of the net with 3.5 seconds left in what was a wild second period.
“We were playing really well,” Martin said. “We had the lead and felt pretty good going into the third.”
PI took a 3-2 lead just three minutes into the second when Tyler Seeley beat Kane with a low wrist shot coming down the left side.
But like it did in the first period, Waterville answered, this time from Denis with 9:37 left in the second.
Denis took a nice pass from Andrew Roderigue through center ice, charged down the right side and beat Flynn with a hard wrist shot to the far post.
Waterville grabbed a 1-0 lead just 4:18 into the game when Lee, after taking a pass from Oliveira, came out of the right corner and ripped a tough-angle shot that deflected off Flynn’s pads and into the net.
“I think we were a little nervous at the start,” Carl Flynn said. “We’re used to being the underdogs here wearing our dark jerseys. Wearing our whites, I think we were a little anxious at the start.”
The Wildcats then went on the offensive.
With 8:11 left in the period, Joseph Patenaude converted a rebound past Kane to pull PI even at 1-1.
Just 43 seconds later, the Wildcats surged ahead with a power play goal, this one from Andrew Michaud.
The PI forward took a pass from Michael Michaud at the left point, skated in toward the circle and then ripped a shot through a screen and into the top back corner of the net.
PI carried the lead until the final minute of the period, when Waterville pulled even on a Denis goal.
Lee won an offensive zone faceoff to the right of Flynn back to Denis, who ripped a shot to the near side with 21.8 seconds left in the period.