Tyler Wing admitted he spent a portion of Tuesday afternoon doing the math.

“I honestly crunched numbers for about an hour and a half today at work,” Wing said. “I couldn’t see any one game that would throw us one way or the other.”

Wing and his Gardiner boys hockey team sit with a record of 10-7-0 for the season. Whether the Tigers win, lose or tie Wednesday’s regular-season finale, they are a likely lock for the No. 5 seed in the Class B North playoffs, which begin with the quarterfinal round on Feb. 25. It’s a turnaround year for Gardiner. Last season, the Tigers finished the year with a 7-10-1 record in Class B South.

“I think our postseason stride has come into full effect right now,” Wing said. “The boys are starting to put together everything throughout the entirety of the season. They’re working hard and realizing ‘Hey, we’re not losing a lot of games by a lot, we’re only losing by a little.’ Everything is within reach.”

Though sophomore forward Cameron Rizzo leads the team offensively (17 goals, nine assists), multiple players have shown an ability to put the puck in the back of the net, including Jake Weston (10 goals, six assists) and Ryan Kimball (six goals, eight assists). They’ve also received solid goaltending from senior goaltender Quinn Veregge, who has a record of 9-5-0 and a goals against average of 3.10.

“There’s not one lone leader on the ice, they all lead in different aspects of the game,” Wing said. “Ryan Kimball, I think he’s at (14 points) for the entirety of the season. He leads at digging in the corners, fighting for the puck, feeding Cam and Jake a lot, which is huge for that line to be able to have that. Then you’ve got the other line, (AJ Chadwick,  Sean Michaud) and Parker Smith. Those three, they’re all seniors, and they leave everything they’ve got on the ice, every shift that they have.”


Should the Tigers stay at No. 5, they would face No. 4 Presque Isle (12-5-1) in the quarterfinals. Gardiner and Presque Isle battled in a regular season matchup Feb. 7, a game where the Wildcats edged the Tigers 5-4.

The true battle among area teams resides in the No. 8 and final seed. Currently in the spot is Cony, which finished its regular season Saturday with an 8-3 loss to Messalonskee to finish with an 8-10-0 record. Sitting just below the Rams in the No. 9 spot are the Kennebec RiverHawks (5-10-2). If Kennebec can top Brewer in the regular-season finale Wednesday at the Alfond Center in Waterville, it could propel the RiverHawks to No. 8 and knock the Rams out. Cony had a chance to lock the spot — and possibly a higher seed — but the Rams dropped the final four games of the regular season.

“Unfortunately, it was on us to control our own destiny, but we didn’t,” Cony coach Shawn Johnson said. “Now that we lost, we have to wait on other people that control our destiny. That kind of stinks, but that’s just kind of the way it is when you don’t take care of your own business.”

The No. 1 seed will be Hampden Academy, which owns a record of 13-1-3, but has shown some signs of weakness near the end of the regular season. The Broncos fell to No. 3 Camden Hills by a score of 4-2 on Saturday. Hampden’s top offensive player is Cooper Leland, who’s scored 18 goals and added 14 assists.

Johnson said it feels like the B North field might be wide open during the playoffs.

“I think everybody is pretty appropriately placed (seeding-wise),” Johnson said. “It’s been a crazy season to be watching some of the scores. We get rocked by Camden, but then we beat Brewer (5-4 win in overtime Dec. 28), and then Brewer beats Camden. You go ‘What?’ I just didn’t expect that at all… Some of the scores, if I were a betting man, I would have lost some serious money.”

Messalonskee (10-6-1) currently sits at No. 7 in the standings. With a victory over Hampden on Wednesday, the Eagles could possibly put themselves in the No. 6 spot, where Brewer (7-8-2), currently resides. Messalonskee continues an excellent turnaround after finishing last season with a 1-17-0 record. Senior forward Dylan Cunningham has scored 39 goals — along with 19 assists — this season, but he’s far from the lone goal scorer for the Eagles. Forward Ben Hellen has 10 goals and 24 assists, while Myles Hammond has 12 goals and 29 assists. Freshman forward Bryce Crowell has also contributed with 10 goals.

Should the Eagles stay at No. 7, they would face Old Town/Orono (12-5-1) in the quarterfinals.

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