Presque Isle Wildcats players celebrate one of their second period goals during a Class B North semifinal win over Hampden Academy on Friday at Colby College in Waterville. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — They traveled further than anyone to get here. They grow up playing in what is essentially an isolated youth hockey world. Year after year, the Presque Isle boys hockey team is the least known commodity in Class B North.

Overlook the Wildcats at your own peril.

With three 100-point scorers and a fourth likely on the way, No. 4 Presque Isle beat top-seeded Hampden Academy at its own game Friday night. With the 4-1 win, the Wildcats earned a spot in the regional final for the second time in the last three seasons.

“I think the general public is overlooking us,” said Presque Isle coach Carl Flynn, who will meet Old Town/Orono in Wednesday’s regional final, a rematch of the 2018 title game. “I think most of the teams, though, realize they can’t take us lightly.”

“They’re a very good program,” Old Town/Orono coach Chris Thurlow said after the Black Bears beat Messalonskee in the other semifinal. “Carl’s a great coach, and I’ve always thought he’s one of the best coaches in the league. When he gets those kids going, they’re good.

“They breed some really good hockey players up there.”

Even after dumping the Broncos on Friday, Flynn believed the most significant win in this deep playoff run for the Wildcats came last Tuesday night — a come-from-behind win over No. 5 Gardiner at home. Down 3-1 with 10 minutes remaining in the game, Presque Isle battled back for a 4-3 win.

The victory did more than send Presque Isle to the next round. It also settled any postseason jitters.

“That gave us a lot of momentum going into this game. It helped us to feel good going into this game,” said junior goalie Brandon Poitras, who made 18 saves against the Broncos and was chosen as the game’s MVP by his teammates — for the second straight playoff game.

“I feel like the Gardiner game, in that game, we were all really nervous about what was going to happen,” Poitras said. “I don’t think we were as nervous tonight.”

Ironically, it’s Poitras who spends the least amount of energy getting worked into a lather prior to the opening puck drop on any given night.

“Usually, I try not to think about what’s going on,” Poitras said. “It might sound backward, but usually I try to take my head out of the game so that way I’m not hyper-focused on what’s going on all around me. It’s so the nerves don’t get me.

The Wildcats boast the league’s most prolific top line in the trio of Colby Carlisle, Gage Letourneau and Connor DeMerchant, each of whom topped 50 points this season alone. DeMerchant and Carlisle each scored in the first 54 seconds of the second period against Hampden, and sophomore Jonah Roy — who has more than 20 points this season — scored twice in the win.

Given the fact Presque Isle traveled more than 200 miles to play the regional semifinals at Colby College, there’s a lot of miles between the largest city in Aroostook County and youth hockey circles in Bangor, Waterville or Augusta. That typically means future Wildcats have grown up skating on the same lines and defensive pairings from the time they were wee little squirts at the youth level — just like most town’s basketball players grow up together instead of in a mish-mash of travel teams.

“That first line has literally played together on a line since the time they were in fourth or fifth grade,” Thurlow said. “They can almost play blind, knowing where their linemates are going to be. They’re scary.”

It’s all added up to a Presque Isle hockey program that’s not quite a dynasty, but is certainly among the best in Class B North season after season.

Nobody in the Wildcat dressing room was surprised to be making the regional final.

“I talked to one of the other coaches (in the league) — I won’t say who it was — and he told me last week that our game against Gardiner would be vital, because the winner of that game would be in the finals,” Flynn said. “They felt like (the top three seeds) had already peaked and four through eight had not. Waterville was coming on. Brewer was coming on. Messalonskee was coming on. He felt like the top three were on the downside, and we feel like we have some momentum.

“We’re yet to play our best hockey.”

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