Friday, March 7, 2014
BREWER -- The Messalonskee hockey team spent much of last season chasing Brewer before finally catching its rival in the Eastern B championship title game.
This year, it's the Witches who are doing the chasing.
Defending regional champ Messalonskee reaffirmed its stranglehood on Eastern B with a pivotal 5-1 victory Wednesday night over Brewer.
"We controlled the game overall," Messalonskee coach Mike Latendresse said. "It gives us a lot of (Heal) points. We knew what was at stake. It was an important game for both teams."
Jared Cunningham scored two goals and older brother Chase added a goal and two assists to lead the Eagles (12-2-0), who swept the regular-season series from the Witches (10-4-0).
Kalib Bernatchez and Dylan Burton also scored for Messalonskee while Ben Weeks made 27 saves.
"We came out strong in the first," said Chase Cunningham. "We could've played a lot better but we got the job done."
Andrew Collins scored the lone goal for Brewer, which played without key captains Spencer Valley (flu) and Brody Valley (illness).
"It was not our best game by far," Brewer captain Jake Caron said. "I think this lights a fire under us."
Messalonskee jumped out front on a nice goal by Chase Cunningham just 3 minutes, 3 seconds into the game. JT Towle fired a backhand shot on Brewer goalie Patrick Spaulding, who kicked the puck out wide. However, Cunningham circled out from behind the net and stuffed the puck inside the near post.
"It was a broken-up play," he said. "(The puck) went to the side of net and it was just sitting there."
Burton made it 2-0 with his first career goal, which came on a blast from the point with 9:19 left in the first.
"I didn't even see that shot," said Spaulding, who played with the Maine Moose U-18 team this fall.
The Eagles carried a 2-0 lead into the second period when Bernatchez made it 3-0 on a nice shot to the far post. Bernatchez took a cross-ice pass from Chase Cunningham and then ripped the puck over Spaulding's glove.
"I just got off the bench and saw Chase handling the puck," Bernatchez said. "I came in, he picked up his head and saw me and I got it and I put it over the goalie's glove. I looked up noticed his blocker was a little low. I hesitated a second and luckily I got it through."
Jared Cunningham scored his two goals about four minutes apart in the third period as the Eagles broke the game open.
"Not playing against their top team, it's a different game," Latendresse said. "We pressured well. We were out-worked at times, but with that being said, it's a win."
Bill Stewart -- 621-5640