Presque Isle hockey coach Dr. Carl Flynn needed just one word to describe the matchup with unblemished Messalonskee in the Eastern B championship game Tuesday night.
“Nightmare,” Flynn said. “No one wants to play Messalonskee. A part of us wanted to see John Bapst beat them in (the regional semifinals) but another part of us knew to be the best we would have to play the best.”
The best of Eastern B will be decided Tuesday night at Alfond Arena on the University of Maine campus.
The teams will face off at 7 p.m.
The winner will advance to the Class B state final Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Gorham and Greely will play for the Western B title on Wednesday night.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. “We know the kind of team Presque Isle is. We know we are going to have to show up and play hard.”
Two-time defending Eastern B champ Messalonskee (19-0-0) mostly breezed through the regular season and then used a third-period flurry of goals to upend No. 5 John Bapst 7-3 in the semifinals Saturday.
No. 2 Presque Isle (13-5-1) edged No. 3 Waterville 5-4 in the other semifinal.
The Wildcats are making their fourth trip to the Eastern B final in the last 10 years. They are 1-2 in their previous games with both losses coming to Brewer in blowouts.
Flynn knows there is potential for another lopsided final if his Wildcats can’t stop or slow the dangerous Messalonskee attack.
Josh Towle, Chase Cunningham and brother Jared Cunningham comprise the top Messalonskee line. Chase Cunningham leads the team with 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists) while Jared Cunningham is second with 64 (25-39). “The problem is that they have a lot of weapons,” Flynn said. “If you spend your time trying to neutralize the Cunninghams, (Dan) Condon, Towle and their defensemen, then all you’ve done is just spend all your time trying to neutralize and not attacking or doing anything. We can’t do that.”
So, will PI alter its approach against Messalonskee? Could it show a trap with the hopes of slowing the Eagles down?
“It’s in our bag of tricks,” Flynn said. “In the past we’ve tried to change what we do and it hasn’t worked out too well. We’ll probably just need to play our game and see where it gets us. Obviously, if we go down 3-0 we’ll need to modify. We’ll see what we want to do.”
Messalonskee will have to contend with a tough Presque Isle first line of Tyler Seeley, Alex Michaud and Cooper Madore.
Seeley brings some physical prowess to the unit while Madore and Michaud can get up and down the rink in a hurry.
“They have a nice combination of size and speed,” Latendresse said. “They have a tough first line. We’ll need to be aware of when they are on the ice.”
The Eagles will also have to play a more disciplined game than they did against John Bapst. Messalonskee had seven penalties in that game.
“We only average three or four a game,” Latendresse said. “We need to stay out of the box. It disrupts our five-on-five play. We basically had to kill off a whole period of power play. Presque Isle is dangerous on the power play so we need to be more disciplined. It could be a big difference in this game.”