WATERVILLE — Nowhere is there more parity in Maine high school hockey than in Class B North.

By just a fraction of a Heal point, Old Town/Orono (13-5-0) enters this week’s playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the region, narrowly edging the Kennebec RiverHawks (14-4-0) for the top spot. Both teams earned byes into the regional semifinals Saturday at Colby College’s Alfond Rink. Presque Isle (15-3-0) finished as the No. 3 seed with the league’s best record and will host John Bapst (8-9-1) in a quarterfinal on Tuesday.

Old Town/Orono, Kennebec and Presque Isle were separated by just 0.4629 Heal points, each of them finishing with more than 120 points.

Kennebec beat Old Town/Orono 6-5  at Alfond Rink in the regular season finale on Feb. 19.

“We hit some adversity (this year), and I told them that was going to happen,” said Kennebec coach Jon Hart, whose team lost two of its final five regular-season games after losing only twice in its first 13. “That’s our league. But we’ve also made a statement  as a team that we can definitely beat anyone.”

In the other Class B North quarterfinal Tuesday, No. 4 Camden Hills (11-7-0) hosts No. 5 Hampden (10-7-1). The winner advances to play Kennebec. The RiverHawks split two-game season series with both of those teams.

“We were all within fractions (of a point) for first, f0r second, for third,” Hart said. “I don’t care about the standings or where we finish. I’d take a (quarterfinal game) if I have to. If you can’t win a prelim, you can’t win it all. The bottom line is you’ve got to win — but if you could get it, you’d want that No. 1 seed, too.”

In Class A North, two-time defending state champion Lewiston (16-2-0) once again enters the postseason in the top spot. The gap between the Blue Devils and the rest of the pack was closed significantly this season, with St. Dominic (13-4-1) nipping at Lewiston’s heels all winter before winding up in the No. 2 spot. Each has a bye into the semifinals.

Pre-season favorite Bangor (14-4-0) finished third and hosts No. 6 Cony/Hall-Dale/Monmouth (6-12-0) in a quarterfinal Tuesday night at Sawyer Arena. Puck drop is slated for 6:30 p.m.

The Rams and Rams butted heads only once this season, with Bangor taking a 7-1 decision on Feb. 13. The winner will advance to meet St. Dom’s this weekend.

“I do think we’ve improved, but we’re playing against a really good team,” Cony coach Shawn Johnson said. “We all know it’s an uphill battle, but we’re not giving up. That’s why we’re going there to play the game. … We’ve been putting the effort in, which is huge. That’s all I can ask for.”

In the other Class A North quarterfinal, No. 4 Edward Little (12-6-0) entertains No. 5 Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse/Hyde (8-9-1).

In the southern regions, seven teams qualify for the postseason, with only the No. 1 seeds getting byes. Thornton Academy (11-7-0) enters in the top spot in A South, while Greely (16-2-0) is the leader in B South. The Rangers’ only two losses this season were against Class A teams — Lewiston and St. Dom’s — in consecutive games in late January. Though Thornton’s record isn’t perfect, the Trojans earned significant wins over both Lewiston and St. Dom’s (each one in overtime) and two wins over Scarborough.

In B South, Gardiner (7-10-1) finished eighth in the final Heal point standings to miss out on the postseason. The Tigers went winless over the their final nine games (0-8-1) in failing to qualify.

No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (13-5-0) plays No. 7 Yarmouth (7-9-2), No. 3. York (13-5-0) plays No. 6 Brunswick (9-9-0) and No. 4 Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Poland/Oak Hill (11-6-1) faces No. 5 Gorham (10-8-0) in the B South quarterfinals.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC


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