Presque Isle hockey team hoping to challenge in playoffs

6 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Despite back-to-back losses to Houlton/Hodgdon and Hampden Academy on the road last week, coach Carl Flynn is confident his Wildcat hockey team can turn it around for the playoffs. 

Presque Isle is currently the No. 3 team in the nine-team division, with the top six moving on to the post-season and the top two earning byes into the semifinal round. Flynn said his team will probably end up either second or third in the Heal Point standings for Class B North when the final ones are released later this week.

Defenseman Eric Benson, left, of the Presque Isle Wildcats tries to fend off a Messalonskee player during a regular season match. Benson is one of four seniors on the Wildcats, who will soon complete in the Class B North playoffs. (Contributed photo/Debbie Ackerson-PIHS Athletics)

Finishing second would mean an automatic berth in the semifinals, which are set for March 3 at Colby College in Waterville. If the Wildcats finish third, they would host a quarterfinal match against No. 6 Camden Hills on Feb. 27.

However it turns out, it’s been a strong winter for the youthful Wildcats, who finished up regular season play Monday with a 6-1 home win over Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI. The victory gave PI a 12-6 final record.

Bailey York, Connor DeMerchant and Gage LeTourneau scored two goals each. Colby Carlisle racked up three assists and Isaac Madore and Tanner Smith had two each. Andre Daigle, Brandon Poitras and Bryce Bonville played a period apiece in goal. Madore and classmates Colin Daigle, Devin Ireland and Eric Benson were honored during the Senior Day matinee.

Presque Isle lost at Houlton last Tuesday, 4-1, with Riley Kinney scoring the lone goal for the Wildcats off assists from Thomas Patenaude and Jake Stevens. Bryce Bonville filled in for the injured Andre Daigle in goal and faced 21 shots.

On Saturday, PI made the trip to Hampden and fell, 7-1, one week after beating the Broncos at home, 7-2. Patenaude scored and Stevens recorded the assist. All three of PI’s goalies, Daigle, Bonville and Poitras saw time and faced 36 shots.

“We’re OK with the recent losses because I think we are mentally tough,” Flynn said. “If the standings stay the way they are, we have some excellent matchups that should allow us the best opportunity to win in the playoffs.

“We have accomplished so much with such a young team,” he added.

Presque Isle boasts three solid offensive lines, which Flynn said is handy as they are capable of wearing down the opposing defense during the course of a game. The first line, made up of all juniors, has Stevens (nine goals and a team-leading 18 assists) as the center and Patenaude (a team-best 13 goals and 11 assists) and York (10 goals and nine assists) on the wings.

The second line has freshman Carlisle (nine goals and 13 assists) at center and sophomore DeMerchant (eight goals and 10 assists) and freshman LeTourneau (10 goals and 11 assists) on the wings. Junior Riley Kinney (nine goals) centers the third line, a checking line which has included sophomore Colby Bonville and seniors Ireland and Daigle

Junior Torey Levesque (three goals and six assists), senior Benson, freshman Noah Roy (five assists) and sophomore Tanner Smith (seven assists) are the primary defenders and freshman Cameron Levasseur sees time in certain situations.

“They are all stay-at-home defenseman who we count on time in and time out,” Flynn said.

Andre Daigle (3.55 goals against average), a junior, should see most of the time in goal and Flynn said he has improved immensely as the season has progressed.