Messalonskee senior captain forward Chase Cunningham knows all too well the gut-wrenching, stomach-churning and heart-breaking feeling of losing a state championship game.
So, too, does standout defenseman Dylan Burton. Ditto senior goalie Ben Weeks.
“We’re a little sick of it,” said Cunningham, the all-time leading scorer in Messalonskee program history with 248 points. “We don’t want to feel that again.”
Messalonskee (20-0-0) will once again look to win that elusive state championship when it squares off with Gorham (17-3-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The Eagles are playing in their third straight Class B state title game — the previous two appearances ended with losses to Greely.
“It’s going to be a tough battle but we’re ready.” said Weeks. “We’re more ready than we have been the last few years. The only thing I can say about the last couple years is that it was frustrating to lose in this game. Very frustrating. We don’t want to do that again.”
Gorham, which dethroned Greely in Western B this season, is making its first-ever trip to a state final.
The game also pits a pair of former Class A programs against each other. Gorham dropped from Class A to B this season; Messalonskee is in its third season in Class B.
“We know how good Messalonskee is,” Gorham coach John Portwine said. “They’re dangerous. They went undefeated. We saw them play against Greely, and they really, really impressed. We’ll get to see them up close and personal on Saturday.
“They can skate, and their top line is just fantastic. It’s spectacular. This game will come down to their offense and whether our defense can stop them.”
Chase Cunningham leads the Eagles with 32 goals and 47 assists for 79 points. Younger brother Jared Cunningham is second with 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists). Second line forward Dan Condon has 28 goals and 31 assists for 59 points.
Sophomore defenseman Dylan Burton has 9 goals and 40 assists for 49 points.
“Obviously, they can score some goals,” Portwine said. “We’ll have to be ready defensively.”
Messalonskee averages 6.9 goals a game. It’s scored at least seven goals in 12 games. Gorham, by contrast, has done so in just three games.
The Rams feature a strong defensive unit, led by senior captain Dylan Turner. They’ve held opponents to just 10 goals in their last 10 games.
“We’ve been pretty strong defensively all year,” Portwine said.
The Rams, like the Eagles, will skate three lines. Tucker Buteau leads the team with 18 goals. Senior goalie Justin Broy, a captain, is a big reason Gorham is in this game, as well. He’s been strong in the playoffs, stopping 44 of the 46 shots he’s faced.
“Obviously, Messalonskee is really good,” he said. “They’ve beaten a lot of teams by big scores. We’re going to have to be ready for them.”
Added Portwine: “(Broy) is a difference-maker. He’s been a rock all year for us.”
The teams have two common opponents — Camden Hills and Greely.
Gorham, meanwhile, beat Camden 3-2 and went 2-1-0 against Greely. The Rangers won both regular season meetings before the Rams skated to the 4-2 victory in the Western B championship game.
Messalonskee beat Camden 7-2 and Greely 4-1.
“We know what we have to do (Saturday),” said Chase Cunningham. “Losing the last two years, it’s the worst feeling ever. We don’t want to experience that again. We want to go out and do the job.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640 firstname.lastname@example.org