WINSLOW — The Messalonskee boys hockey team will have an opportunity to defend its regional title for the fifth straight season.

The third-seeded Eagles scored a pair of goals 22 seconds apart between the first and second periods on their way to a 3-1 win over No. 2 Camden Hills in a Class B North semifinal Saturday evening at Sukee Arena. Messalonskee will play No. 1 Waterville in the regional final Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena.

Brandon Nale had a pair of goals in the win while Jared Cunningham notched a goal and an assist. Freshman Amber Kochaver finished with 32 saves in net.

“It was definitely a 45-minute game for us,” Cunningham said. “We played hard from when the puck dropped to the final buzzer. That’s what we have to do every game. We have to come out, work hard and play our game.”

Messalonskee dictated much of the play early Saturday before the Windjammers found their footing. Camden Hills jumped ahead with 4:01 remaining in the opening period when Jonah Cameron beat Kochaver over her right shoulder with a shot from the right circle.

A tripping penalty on Cameron with 20 seconds remaining in the period gave Messalonskee the opening it needed, though, as five seconds later Cunningham scored after Dylan Brown won a draw in the Windjammers’ defensive zone.

“We just like to win the faceoff, set up and catch them when they’re off guard,” Cunningham said. “That’s what we did there. We just attacked when they weren’t ready.”

It was a similar goal out of intermission, as Cunningham won the opening draw to Nale, who in turn skated past the Camden Hills defense along the bench-side boards and tucked the puck inside the far post with the backhand.

Nale employed a similar maneuver 4:22 into the third period after springing free on a lofted pass from Dylan Burton to give the Eagles the breathing room they needed to hold on for the win.

“We knew they were going to score a couple goals,” Camden Hills coach Karl Enroth said. “Our whole idea defensively was to come out here and get four or five goals. We didn’t do that.

“…They were really tough defensively. They played a better defensive game than when we played against them the first time. They were quick on the puck, they were aggressive on the puck. They didn’t really give us that time and space.”

While Nale and Cunningham provided the scoring punch necessary for the Eagles’ win, Messalonskee’s play in the neutral and defensive zones was equally important. The Eagles — who were down starting defenseman Sam Bell (illness) — kept Camden Hills in check cycling just three defensemen, Dylan Burton, Dustin Brown and Connor Smith.

“They came out knowing what they had to do and they executed — I wouldn’t say perfectly, but as close to it as you can get,” Messalonskee coach Joe Hague said. “Everybody got together and came around our young goaltender, who played a great game for her second playoff game as a freshman. She did great. She definitely got tested.

“Camden had a great team — well-coached and very disciplined. They were working hard to get their pucks in the net but we had just great ‘D’ and a lot of good things. It’s fun to sit there and try to rattle them all off.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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