When playoff hockey rolls around you take ice time when you can get it.

After a doubleheader at Sukee Arena last Wednesday, it was nearly 10 p.m. when the Messalonskee High School hockey team took the ice for practice. That late session was not the only step the third-seeded Eagles (11-5-2) took to prepare themselves for Tuesday’s 5 p.m. Class B North quarterfinal at Sukee against No. 6 John Bapst (11-6-1), as the team also enlisted former coach Mike Latendresse — an assistant with the Colby College men’s ice hockey team — to help out.

“It just helps them zero in on what they need to do. He explains it well,” Messalonskee coach Joe Hague said. “He knows exactly what’s going on. He’s a very smart hockey player and he definitely helps us out.”

The Eagles have had a full week to prepare for the Crusaders and are hoping Tuesday’s game plays out similar to their two previous meetings. Messalonskee was one game removed from a three-game losing streak when it put together one of its better games of the season in a 6-0 rout of John Bapst. The Eagles also picked up a 10-1 win on Feb. 10.

“Everything was firing on all cylinders,” Hague said. “We came out playing as a team and controlled the neutral zone.

“…If we stick to our game plan and play the game we can, I hope we have the same outcome. We have to come ready to play and ready to do what we need to do to get the job done.”

The two-time defending Class B state champs are hardly the only ones getting ready for the playoffs, though.

No. 4 Winslow (12-4-2) will play after the conclusion of Messalonskee’s game Tuesday against No. 5 Brewer (10-7-1). The Black Raiders and Witches met in the regular season finale last Wednesday, a 5-2 win for Brewer. Winslow took the first meeting earlier this season, 4-1, on Dec. 26.

“It should be interesting. Skill level they’re pretty similar,” Winslow coach Andy Dube said. “They have good goaltending, we have good goaltending. They’ve got a typical amount of players that can play. It’s just a good match up — very similar teams.”

The matchup in net should be a good one, as Brewer’s Tyler Friel and Winslow’s Andrew Beals are two of the best goalies in Class B North.

“They’re both good-sized goalies and they both have good gloves,” Brewer coach Lance Ingerson said. “It’s going to be a good matchup.”

In Class B South, No. 2 Gardiner (13-4-1) will host No. 7 Gorham (7-11-0) at 6:20 p.m. at Camden National Bank Ice Vault. The Tigers are well aware that the Rams are far better than their record indicates and should not be taken lightly.

Gorham played one of the more challenging schedules in the conference, as three of their losses came to Class A playoff teams in Scarborough, Edward Little and Biddeford. The Rams also lost a pair of games to Yarmouth, the No. 1 seed in Class B South, as well as one each to Waterville and Camden Hills, the top two seeds in Class B North, respectively. In the lone meeting this season, Gorham beat Gardiner 3-0 on Dec. 10.

“It’s going to be a heck of a test for us and we just have to come out and play our game,” Gardiner coach Sam Moore said. “You can’t look at (Gorham’s) record, for sure.”

No. 6 Cony/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (12-6-0) is in a similar situation as it prepares for its Class A North quarterfinal against No. 3 Edward Little on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Norway Savings Bank Arena. Outside of a 9-1 loss to top-seeded Lewiston, the Rams did not lose a game this season by more than a goal.

“At the same token they were all one goal games that we didn’t win. We feel like a No. 6 seed that has been improving all year long, which was what our goal was at the beginning of the year,” Rams coach Chad Foye said. “This is probably where we should be. When you look at those games they’re close, but it doesn’t count how close you are. It counts who wins. We’ve got to keep improving and keep getting better.”

The Red Eddies took the first meeting between the two teams, 4-3, on Dec. 9 in Auburn, while the Rams picked up a 2-1 victory on Jan. 15 in Hallowell.

“This is definitely a big hurdle for us and if we go in with our ‘A’ game we’re going to give ourselves a chance,” Foye said. “We have to go play hard and we can’t make mistakes or turn pucks over. We just have to make sure we play within ourselves.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.