The Star-Herald

With strong offense, Presque Isle hockey team roars into the playoffs

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — After a season in which it made its hometown proud with a division-leading offense, the 2019-20 Presque Isle hockey team will play in the Class B hockey tournament. 

 

The No.4 Presque Isle High School (12-5-1) will face off against No. 5 Gardiner Area High School (11-7) in a Class B North quarterfinal at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, for a home game at The Forum.

This playoff berth is far from the first for Wildcats coach Carl Flynn, who has made the postseason in 13 of his 15 years coaching the squad. Last year, Presque Isle beat JohnBapst/MDI/Bangor Christian in the Class B North quarterfinal 4-1. But the Wildcats were edged out by Waterville/Winslow 6-5 in the next round, dashing its championship hopes. 

Flynn said he was thrilled to have secured a home quarterfinal game with a top-four finish. To succeed against Gardiner, he believes his players need to resist committing penalties and maintain the high-intensity offense they’ve shown in the regular season. 

“We need to play our game, which is speed and finesse,” Flynn said. “We need to try to overwhelm the other team’s defense.”

Presque Isle’s offense is among the best in its division, averaging six goals a game and scoring nine or more in three games this season. It’s unsurprising it has had such a dynamic offense: three of its players have some of the best offensive numbers in Class B. 

Junior Gage LeTourneau scored 62 points from 31 goals and 31 assists in what may have been the best offensive season in the division. He was equaled on points by junior Colby Carlisle, who had 62 points from 27 goals and 35 assists. Senior Connor DeMerchant came in third with 56 points from 20 goals and 36 assists. 

Both Carlisle and LeTourneau led Class B in points, the only players in the division to make it over 60. DeMerchant came out fourth in points while leading the division in assists. 

Carlisle, LeTourneau and DeMerchant all made it to the 100-point milestone this season. Sophomore Jonah Roy (21 points), sophomore Quinn DeMerchant (19 points) and senior Colby Bonville (18 points) will also be players to watch in the playoffs.  

Though not as high-leveled as their offensive production, the Wildcats have also maintained a steady defense, giving up four goals a game on average. Junior goalie Brandon Poitras also had a solid season. With 403 saves over 18 games, he ended the season with a .870 save percentage.

Presque Isle’s face-off against Gardiner will be exciting because of their dueling strengths and weaknesses: Gardiner has struggled on offense compared to Presque Isle, barely averaging four (3.56) goals a game. 

Meanwhile, its defense has been lights-out: teams have only squeaked out two points against them on average. In seven of Gardiner’s regular-season games, its opponents only scored one point or less, including two shutouts. 

If previous matches can tell us anything about the outcome, Presque Isle should be in good shape. On Feb. 14, the Wildcats beat the Tigers 5-4 at home. Yet, there is no doubt this quarterfinal will be one to watch.

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