WATERVILLE — Almost exactly one year ago to the day, the Winslow/Gardiner girls hockey team all but collapsed, squandering a three-goal lead against Brunswick over the final six minutes in what has quickly become an intense North division rivalry.

On Wednesday night, in the first meeting of this season between the two teams, the Black Tigers never let the Dragons up off the mat. Junior winger Anna Chadwick scored a pair of goals as part of an eight-point night for Winslow/Gardiner’s top line, and the Black Tigers scored key goals in the first and final minutes of periods en route to a 5-2 win at Colby College’s Alfond Rink.

Senior netminder Cassie Demers made 18 saves for Winslow/Gardiner, which has won three of its first four games this season as it eyes a postseason trip for the second consecutive season after being ousted by — you guessed it — the Dragons last February.

“There was a lot of motivation,” Demers said. “I knew going in that I was not going to let what happened last year be tonight. I wanted to work as hard as I could for my team, because I want to go as far as we possibly can.”

In this meeting a year ago, the Black Tigers (3-1-0) needed overtime heroics from then-freshman defenseman Julia Hinkley to salvage a 5-5 overtime win. In the regional quarterfinal between the two at the end of the season, a four-goal effort from Jenna Brooks stopped the Winslow/Gardiner playoff run almost as soon as it got started.

There was no Brooks to contend with Wednesday. The Black Tigers, without a single dominant player in its own lineup instead turned to its dominant top line. Evelyn Hinkley had a goal and two assists and Sarah Stevens added a goal and an assist to join Chadwick on the well-rounded scoresheet by night’s end.

“It’s a pretty big rival for us,” Winslow/Gardiner head coach Alan Veilleux said. “We split with them last year (in the regular season) and then they took us in the playoffs, so there was a lot of revenge there. The girls wanted to come out with a lot of fire for their first home game of the year, too.”

Chadwick’s second goal of the night came in the first minute of the third period to squash whatever slim hopes Brunswick had of a comeback for a second straight December.

“Our passes were really on. We can read each other really well,” Chadwick said. “Tonight we came out and we played really well.”

“I was pretty happy. The girls skated well tonight,” Veilleux said. “What really showed tonight was the passing. It was the best passing night we’ve had so far this year… Our experienced girls really moved the puck well and caught them off-guard.”

The night didn’t get off to the cleanest start for Winslow/Gardiner.

The Black Tigers couldn’t square up a couple of opportunities against open nets set up by Hinkley in the first couple of minutes, and they took some early icing calls to help the Dragons (0-3-0) to some much-needed zone time. Even after Winslow/Gardiner grabbed a 1-0 lead on their first shot on goal — courtesy of Stevens at the 5:45 mark — they allowed Brunswick to win the ensuing faceoff and set up shop, responding only 42 seconds later with Emily Factor’s goal to even the score.

From there, though, the Black Tigers were all over the visitors, adding two goals before the first period was through. Chadwick handed Winslow/Gardiner the lead for good, and Hinkley stuffed one home through a pile in front of Brunswick netminder Hannah Wentworth (32 saves) with 20.4 seconds left in the frame to make it 3-1.

“We’ve lost first-round playoffs against them, so to come out and be confident and be ahead the whole game really helped us out,” Chadwick said. “It helped our confidence and gave us that sense that we could keep playing hard, but with a little bit of cushion, if we did make a mistake, we’d still be OK.”

Winslow/Gardiner kept on going right through the second period, and the Black Tigers were only slowed by a steady march to the penalty box throughout the middle frame. Brunswick pulled to within a goal at 3-2 when freshman defenseman Shea Sullivan’s wrist shot along the ice snaked its way through skates and sticks to beat Demers for a power play goal at 9:51.

Though Winslow/Gardiner couldn’t add another goal in the second period, they certainly threatened to. The Black Tigers outshot the Dragons 17-7 in the period, despite having to kill off four penalties, and even held a 7-6 shot advantage during those Brunswick power plays.

Demers was good when called upon, making a sprawling save at the right post on Elena Palmer’s partial breakaway less than two minutes after Brunswick had cut its deficit to a single goal.

That save seemed to energize the Black Tigers, who produced a significant 30-second stretch in the final two minutes of the period. On a delayed penalty call to Brunswick’s Colleen McKearny during a Dragon power play, Winslow/Gardiner held the puck in the offensive zone long enough for the penalty time to Kathryn Bailey to expire — giving the Black Tiger penalty killers a reprieve from the pressure and ensuring a full two-minute power play of their own.

That man advantage for Winslow/Gardiner carried over into the third period, where Chadwick cashed in for a 4-2 lead less than a minute into the final frame.

Julia Hinkley added an insurance tally with under five minutes remaining.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC