WINSLOW — Another standout effort from Winslow goalkeeper Andrew Beals was not going to keep the Waterville hockey team from the regional final this season.

Nick Denis finally broke through for the Purple Panthers early in the second period after the team peppered Beals throughout the first, and Waterville went on to down rival Winslow 2-0 Saturday night in a Class B North semifinal at Sukee Arena. The Purple Panthers will next face Messalonskee in the regional final Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena.

Denis’ goal was assisted by Oliveira, while Justin Wentworth also scored a goal off an assist from Andrew Roderigue for Waterville. Beals — who made 36 saves in Winslow’s 5-2 win over Waterville in last season’s regional semifinal — finished with 48 saves in the loss.

“It’s definitely a great experience. Personally, I’ve never been to the (Northern) Maine final in any of my sports, soccer or hockey, so it’s a great feeling — especially playing a rival team like that,” Oliveira said. “There’s no greater feeling. I’m just pumped.”

The Purple Panthers’ veteran players certainly served them well Saturday, as they could have easily gotten frustrated with the way Beals was playing in the opening period. The senior made 21 saves — a number of which were hardly routine — and Denis rang the crossbar on an open look on net late in the period.

“We just tried the make sure the guys didn’t get frustrated,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “We told them keep working and sooner or later good things are going to happen.”

That work finally paid off for Waterville early in the second period following a tripping penalty on Ben Frost. Winslow nearly killed off the power play, but with less than 30 seconds remaining in the man advantage, Oliveira ripped a shot from the point that Denis got a stick on out front to lift the puck into the top of the cage 2:42 into the period.

The Black Raiders nearly got the equalizer a little over six minutes later when Tommy Tibbetts took a lead pass in transition and skated in on Waterville goalkeeper Nathan Pinnette (16 saves). Tibbetts tried to go from right to left and finish with the backhand, but Pinnette stayed with him to make the save.

Winslow did have a few promising scoring chances throughout the contest, yet each time the Black Raiders could not find the momentum-shifting goal they needed.

“We played hard. We couldn’t finish on a couple opportunities that hurt us,” Winslow coach Andy Dube said. “They played hard all the way through. Beals kept it reasonable but they buried the ones that they did.”

Waterville opened up some breathing room 3:45 into the final period on the power play, as Roderigue found Wentworth on a nice feed out front from behind the net. From there the Waterville defense and a number of Winslow penalties kept the Black Raiders from mounting any sort of comeback.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

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Twitter: @Evan_Crawley