After beginning the season with a 4-0 record, the Presque Isle Wildcats started their post-Christmas schedule by suffering an 8-5 home loss to Waterville-Winslow Dec. 28.
The team bounced back in a big way less than 24 hours later, though picking up an 11-0 win over Maranacook of Readfield in a match played at Kents Hill. Victories over Maranacook at home on Friday and in Bangor against John Bapst Saturday give Presque Isle a 7-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in Class B North as of Monday.
In the loss, PI held a 36-21 advantage in shots on goal, but Ben Grenier was brilliant in goal for the Riverhawks and allowed his team to earn a tough road victory.
Connor DeMerchant had two of the five goals for the Wildcats, while Thomas Patenaude, Jake Stevens and Gage LeTourneau netted one each. Stevens also chalked up three assists, while Noah Roy, Jonah Roy, Patenaude, DeMerchant and LeTourneau each picked up assists.
Andre Daigle started in goal for PI and was relieved early in the second period by Brandon Poitras, who went the rest of the way.
“We were rusty after a long Christmas break and our defense didn’t protect our goalies, while their goalie played an excellent game,” said Wildcat coach Carl Flynn.
The Dec. 29 road game provided a much different storyline. PI scored three times in the first period and put four goals on the scoreboard in both the second and third periods to win easily.
The Wildcats outshot Maranacook by a 45-9 margin. Colby Carlisle scored three goals and DeMerchant and Stevens added two each to lead the attack. Patenaude, LeTourneau, Jaren Winger and Riley Kinney notched one goal apiece.
LeTourneau led the team in assists with four, while Carlisle, DeMerchant and Winger all added two each. Stevens, Patenaude, Torey Levesque, Carter Jackson and Jonah Roy all chipped in with assists.
Poitras and Daigle each faced nine shots in combining for the shutout.
“After allowing eight goals [the previous night], we challenged the team to get a shutout,” Flynn said. “We wanted all components of the team playing with a defense-first attitude.
“We lead the state in most all offensive categories, but weren’t doing so well defensively, and the team came through,” he added.
In the most recent action, the Wildcats earned their sixth and seventh wins by shutting out Maranacook at home Friday, 4-0, and then edging John Bapst in a Saturday afternoon road game, 5-4.
On Friday, the Wildcats outshot Maranacook by a 54-5 margin, but Will Hayes kept the visitors in the game with his brilliant outing in goal. After a scoreless first period, Connor DeMerchant scored on a breakaway off assists by Cameron Levasseur and Colby Carlisle. Carlisle then scored off assists by Jaren Winger and DeMerchant to make it 2-0 after the second period.
Thomas Patenaude converted a Jake Stevens assist 28 seconds into the third, while DeMerchant capped the scoring off assists by Noah Roy and Carlisle.
The following day, Colby Bonville tallied off a Stevens assist midway through the third period for the tie-breaking goal.
Connor DeMerchant and Thomas Patenaude contributed first-period goals for PI, with Gage LeTourneau assisting on DeMerchant’s goal. DeMerchant made it 3-1 off assists by Stevens and Patenaude. Winger netted a goal to make it 4-2 in the period, off assists by LeTourneau and Carlisle, but Bapst scored twice before the period ended to knot the score, setting up Bonville’s game-winner.
Brandon Poitras and Daigle shared the Wildcats’ goaltending chores, combining for 13 saves.
“We outplayed them, but they never gave up and forced us to play an intense defensive game in the third period to preserve the victory,” said PI coach Carl Flynn. “Tight wins like this will be invaluable come playoff time and will teach us to not panic and instead trust our skill and game plan.”