WINSLOW — The Messalonskee High School hockey team had been rolling through Class B opponents for nearly three years — until now.

Riding the momentum of a stopped penalty shot by goaltender Nathan Pinnette, Waterville Senior High School (7-0-1 Class B North) scored a pair of goals in the final five minutes and held on for a 6-5 win over the Eagles in front of a raucous crowd at Sukee Arena on Wednesday night.

“We’ve been at them for a while now and it feels good to come out with a win,” said Waterville’s Nick Denis, who had a goal and an assist. “They’re a tough team to play and it’s always good to come out with a (win).”

For Messalonskee (5-1-1 Class B North), it was its first loss to a Class B school since March 9, 2013 when it fell to Greely 3-0 in the state championship game.

“It’s one of those games where it’s tough. You’re losing to the cross-town rival. It’s a bad taste in the mouth,” Messalonskee head coach Joe Hague said. “These kids haven’t lost to a Class B team in a few years. This is a tough pill to swallow sometimes, and now we just have to go back to the drawing board, come back out and get ready for Camden Hills on Saturday.”

“It hits you pretty hard in the heart,” added Messalonskee senior Jared Cunningham.

The third goal of the game from Brandon Nale with 6:57 remaining in the third period brought the Eagles even for the first time since midway through the first, and two minutes later Messalonskee had a strong opportunity to take its first lead.

Dustin Brown was tripped up from behind on a breakaway to draw a penalty shot with 4:51 remaining, but just as momentum appeared to be siding with Messalonskee it quickly swung back to the Purple Panthers.

Brown went glove side on the shot but Pinnette (36 saves) was there for the save. It was just 20 seconds later when Andrew Roderigue skated into the Eagle’s defensive zone along the left boards and beat Eli Michaud glove side with a left-handed shot from just inside the circle.

“It’s always a game of momentum,” Waterville head coach Dennis Martin said. “Nathan came up big and it got us fired up.”

Justin Wentworth added an insurance goal with 2:36 to play and it proved to be one that the Purple Panthers needed to get the win.

Cunningham cut the deficit in half a little over one minute later for his fourth point of the night and 250th of his career. He is now just six points away from tying his brother, Chase, for the school’s all-time scoring mark.

Cunningham was also involved in a last-second scramble that nearly produced the game-tying goal. The Eagles had put a shot on goal playing six-on-five that Pinnette could not cover up, and the puck remained free in front of the net with just seconds on the clock.

Time ultimately expired before the Eagles could score a potential game-tying goal, however, to seal the win for Waterville.

“These guys can score,” Martin said. “The game wasn’t over until the buzzer sounded.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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