WATERVILLE — After seeing its last two seasons end at the hands of a Gardiner boys hockey team, Messalonskee made sure to finally reverse course Wednesday night.

Junior netminder Hunter Hallee made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season, leading the second-seeded Eagles to a 3-0 win over No. 7 Gardiner/Waterville/Winslow in a Class B North quarterfinal at Colby College’s Kelley Rink. Messalonskee (16-3-1) will host No. 3 Presque Isle or No. 6 Old Town/Orono in a regional semifinal Saturday.

Last season, a standalone Gardiner team stunned then-No. 1 Messalonskee in a regional quarterfinal to bounce the Eagles out of the playoffs. One year earlier, in an area tournament at the end of a winter with no regular season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tigers dropped Messalonskee in overtime to deny the Eagles a chance to play for the tournament title.

No such shock awaited Messalonskee this time around.

“It was the motivation from the seniors being kicked out the last two years by them,” Hallee said. “That’s probably the main thing. We beat them the last two years twice in the regular season but couldn’t finish in the playoffs against them. “

“That’s what he does. He’s ready,” Messalonskee coach Dennis Martin said of Hallee. “He’s the hardest worker on the team, and right now he’s pretty well zoned in.”


The Tigers’ season, its first as a Gardiner/Waterville/Winslow co-op, ended with a 6-13-0 record.

A pair of third-period Messalonskee goals 33 seconds apart gave Hallee all the insurance he would need.

Messalonskee High School’s Garrett Card (12) tries to unsuccessfully one-time the puck past Gardiner/Waterville/Winslow goalie Aiden Paradis (14) in the Class B North quarterfinals hockey game at Colby College in Waterville on Wednesday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Bryce Crowell walked down the slot area and beat Aiden Paradis for a 2-0 lead at 7:35, and then the Eagles’ third line connected for an Andrew Beckwith goal at 8:08.

“We were waiting for this. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly,” Crowell said. “We had to get back at them for the last two seasons. We knew if we scored a few on them they’d make some stupid mistakes.”

The rapid succession breakdown in the Tiger defensive zone dampened an otherwise stellar effort from Paradis, who did his best to keep Gardiner in it with 48 saves.

“We didn’t get a lot of shots on net, and we didn’t keep Hallee working,” Gardiner coach K.C. Johnson said. “That’s hard on Aiden. They filled very well and transition killed us again.”


Messalonskee opened the scoring in the first period. Owen Kirk took advantage of a broken Gardiner clearing play along the right wing boards and fired in front for a perfectly redirected strike from Jack Hammond at 9:41.

Messalonskee High School players celebrate a goal against Gardiner/Waterville/Winslow with fans in the Class B North quarterfinals hockey game at Colby College in Waterville on Wednesday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Messalonskee appeared to have doubled its lead with 3.8 seconds remaining in the second period, but Beckwith’s would-be score was disallowed by a high stick.

Territorially, Messalonskee dominated from the opening puck drop. Out-skating the Tigers up and down the rink, the Eagles out-chanced Gardiner by a 2-to-1 margin. In addition to the 51-21 shot advantage, Messalonskee produced 25 Grade A chances from between the hashes to just nine for Gardiner.

The Tigers mustered only four third-period shots. None of those were generated from high-danger areas.

“It was 1-0 for so long, I just kept doing what I was doing and just kept my head in it and stayed focused,” Hallee said. “The last five minutes seemed to take forever.”

All three Messalonskee lines accounted for goals with nine different players earning a point.

The final period was marred by 27 total penalty minutes assessed to both teams, all but two of those coming in the final five minutes.

“We outworked, we battled, we fought through,” Martin said.

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