HALLOWELL — On a team that has had its issues with getting off to quick starts, Reed Hopkins had his legs going from the opening drop on Tuesday night.

The Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth sophomore winger scored his first career hat trick, a natural hat trick in the second period, lifting No. 3 Cony to an 8-4 win over No. 6 Edward Little in the Class A North quarterfinals at the Camden National Ice Vault. Hopkins’ feat couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rams (14-5-0), who squandered a two-goal lead in the first seven minutes of the middle stanza before Hopkins brought them storming back.

“This is amazing. Just awesome,” Hopkins said. “I was super pumped up. I knew this was a big game and we had tied them (in regulation) last time, so we had to really put in some goals to win. It was too close last time.”

Avery Pomerleau also scored three times for Cony, which had beaten Edward Little (5-14-0) in overtime in late January in the only regular-season meeting between the two teams. The Rams advance to meet No. 2 Bangor in the regional semifinals on Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

“He had a lot of moves, the puck was on his stick a lot and he just kept working hard and battling,” Cony coach Chad Foye said of Hopkins. “When you do that, good things happen for you. That’s a prime example of that.”

After Pomerleau and linemate Cam Wilson staked Cony out to a 2-0 lead through one period, a parade to the penalty box helped the Red Eddies find their way back into the game. Alex Landry scored on the power play, cutting the Cony lead in half, and then Aaron Perkins lit the lamp just seconds after another Eddies’ power play expired to make it a 2-2 game at the 6:50 mark of the second.

Enter Hopkins.

He executed a set play off an offensive zone draw for a power-play goal out of the right wing corner at 8:48, following that with a quick hop into transition to cash in on a 2-on-1 with Cole Lockhart at 12:06. Junior defenseman Tyler Dostie picked up his third assist of the night on the goal.

“Our wings were getting wide open toward the middle and our centers were doing a good job grinding at the end,” Dostie said. “It made our jobs easier. We just got pucks to the net.”

“It was a similar style of game that was pretty physical, but turnovers killed us,” Edward Little coach Brett Barrett said, referencing his team’s 2-1 overtime loss to Cony in late January. “There was nothing else to the game. I thought we played pretty well, got some pucks on net and were pretty good in the neutral zone — as were they — but we turned the puck over four or five times and they put all of them in the net.

“It was really that simple.”

Hopkins scored his third straight goal, while shorthanded, at 14:17 to make it a 5-2 game.

“If I’m moving like that and putting in that many goals, it’s even a surprise to me,” Hopkins said.

Edward Little got one back just 16 seconds later, on the power play. Three of the Eddies’ four goals on the night came with the man advantage.

But Logan Leadbetter stepped into an errant clearing pass from the right point to put Cony back up by three with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, and Pomerleau struck twice off the right circle 16 seconds apart to put the game away.

“That’s not usually our forte, but we’ve been doing better with it recently, just because we’ve been shooting more,” said Foye, whose team won 17 of 22 third-period faceoffs and had twice as many shot attempts overall (60-30) for the night. “I’m happy with eight goals in a game, but I’m not happy with giving up four. There’s two sides to the coin there.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC