WATERVILLE — After sitting out the final nine games of the regular season, Zach Menoudarakos promised his teammates he’d make it up to them somehow. Saturday afternoon, the perfect time arrived.

Menoudarakos’ slap shot from the left point through traffic found its way to the back of the net less than four minutes into overtime, lifting No. 2 Kennebec to a 6-5 win over No. 3 Presque Isle in a Class B North hockey semifinal at Alfond Rink. The power-play goal came after the RiverHawks saw a two-goal lead evaporate over the final 8:18 of regulation.

Kennebec (15-4-0) will meet No. 1 Old Town/Orono in the regional final Wednesday night at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena. The Black Bears beat No. 4 Camden Hills in the other semifinal Saturday night.

“It was a great feeling, especially after missing the time away from the guys and missing a bunch of games,” Menoudarakos said. “I’ve been trying to make it up to them the whole week. That was huge for us.”

Kennebec goalie Ben Grenier makes a save against Presque Isle during the Class B North semifinals Saturday at Colby College in Waterville. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

Sophomore Nate Newgard had three goals in the win, while senior Tom Tibbetts scored twice — the second of which handed Kennebec a 5-3 lead at 2:02 of the third period — as the RiverHawks’ top line accounted for all five goals in regulation.

For Presque Isle (16-4-0), Thomas Patenaude had a hat trick, including a game-tying goal with 1:05 remaining off a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle to elude Kennebec goalie Ben Grenier (24 saves). Gage Letourneau also scored twice for the Wildcats in a game in which the two teams were only separated by a single goal for a total of 4 minutes, 40 seconds.

Kennebec survived a frantic final minute of the third period as Presque Isle pushed to end things in regulation, and similarly held off the Wildcats during the first two minutes of the extra session.

But at 3:02 of overtime, Patenaude was whistled off for roughing after a hard collision with Grenier in the left wing circle as the two chased a loose puck. It was the second hard hit involving the two players, the first coming when Patenaude drove the net to pull Presque Isle within one goal, 5-4, at 6:42 of the third.

Presque Isle’s Gage LeTourneau, left, and Kennebec’s Cooper Hart collide during the Class B North semifinals Saturday at Colby College in Waterville. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“I knew there was a possibility (of getting hit), but I knew that if I didn’t go out to try and make a play on the puck there was going to be a breakaway there,” Grenier said. “I thought I had the time to beat him to it, so I just went for it.”

“That penalty in overtime is questionable,” Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn said. “It’s a 50-50 puck, they both play it. I don’t think the referees on the ice were even all in agreement with the call, and (Kennebec coach Jon Hart) told me after the game that he didn’t think it was a good call. It ends up being the game winner. The kids played hard. There’s not much more I can say.”

That Kennebec power play set up the Menoudarakos winner.

Tibbetts and Newgard battled for possession of the puck in the right wing corner, and a weak attempt to clear the puck — with the Wildcat penalty killers collapsed deep into their own zone — sent the puck to Menoudarakos.

His shot beat Andre Daigle (20 saves) cleanly through the legs.

Kennebec’s Thomas Tibbetts, left, chases after Presque Isle’s Gage LeTourneau during the Class B North semifinals Saturday at Colby College in Waterville. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan

“I couldn’t even think. I just wanted to get down there and celebrate as fast as I could,” Grenier said of his view from the opposite end of the rink. “You kind of lose sight of the (shot), but once you see the players arms go up, you know it’s in.”

“There was a big pile in front of the net, and we’ve been working a lot on getting a shot from the point when everyone is out in the middle and the goalie is down,” Menoudarakos said. “Before the faceoff, I was even thinking about a faceoff win back to Brandon (Mason), Brandon over to me, easy goal, jump into the glass.”

Though he’d been a full participant on the practice ice, Menoudarakos hadn’t played for Kennebec since Jan. 12 — the exact midpoint of the regular season. The junior, who transferred back to Waterville Senior High School after a year spent at Kents Hill School, cited “ some of it was academic, some of it was personal” for having missed half the year.

“We shot ourselves in the foot sometimes, but when it mattered big players came up big,” Hart said. “(Menoudarakos) missed a lot this year, but he’s worked harder than anybody in practice to make it up to the team. That was huge for us right there.”

Kennebec opened the scoring less than two minutes into the first period through Newgard before Presque Isle countered with two goals of its own before the midway point of the frame.

Tibbetts and Newgard potted goals 1:49 part early in the second to give the RiverHawks the lead again, but Letourneau tied it with a power play goal at 11:52.

Newgard made sure, through a breakaway goal in the final minute, the RiverHawks would have the lead entering the third period.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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