I suppose it’s been long enough since anyone has seen anything new in this space.

Can anyone stop the burgeoning dynasty that is Biddeford in high school hockey?

Maybe. Maybe not.

With three titles in the past four years, and another unbeaten regular season under their belts, the Tigers are looking to make it four state crowns in five seasons. The Tigers have already passed the test as a “modern” dynasty by winning three out of four, the first time a team has done so since Lewiston won in 1992, ’93 and ’95. The last time a team won four in a five-year stretch? Lewiston again, this time from 1974 to 1977 (the Devils won four in a row).

Biddeford is on the verge of some pretty exclusive company.

But this year’s playoff scene won’t be a walk in the park, for any of the teams involved.

Let’s start in the West.

And certainly, this list begins with No. 1 Biddeford. The Tigers again finished unbeaten, with three ties (Lewiston, St. Dom’s, Falmouth). The top underclassman in the state, Brady Fleurent, leads this excplosive offense — and the rest of the state, regardless of class or tier — with 56 points, split evenly between goals and assists. Linemate Bryan Dallaire has 38 points in three fewer games.

The one question the Tigers started the year with was in net, and Jon Fields has answered those questions well. He took the reins midway through the season, and in nine games, posted a 1.55 GAA and a .930 save percentage. He is not, however, playoff tested. If there is one thing that may bite the Tigers back, it would be the experience factor.

That shouldn’t be the case in the first round against No. 8 South Portland, though. The Red Riots didn’t win against a single team that made the playoffs this season in Western A, and lost twice to Biddeford, the second time via shutout in the season’s final game. The Riots are also struggling to find the net, having scored no goals in the season’s final three contests.

No. 2 Thornton Academy is an intriguing case. The Trojans were up and down all season, bu at the end, came on strong. TA lost to Biddeford in a shootout, 6-4, and then rattled off five consecutive victories to close out the season, including three shutouts in a row on the back end of that run.

With defense and goaltending like that down the stretch, the Trojans should be favored to get another crack at Biddeford. With five different players registering at least 20 points this season, Thornton has the depth to make a deep run this season.

Facing No. 7 Scarborough and veteran coach Norm Gagne won’t be the easiest thing in the world for TA to start with, though. The Red Storm won four in a row to earn the No. 7 spot at the end of the season.

But, TA did defeat Scarborough twice during the season by a combined score of 10-2. Zach Pettingill, a senior, leads the Storm with 22 points this season.

The 3-6 matchup in Western A is a tough one to call. On one hand, you have the No. 3 Marshwood/Traip co-op squad. Playing a Tier III schedule, the Hawks have rolled through the season with 16 wins. That alone, no matter what Tier a team is playing, is impressive. A trio of players — Andrew Rollins (a senior), Peter Lajeunesse (a freshman) and Aaron Gootee (a senior) — topped 40 points for the high-flying Hawks. The team’s two losses are also puzzlers. After defeating perennial Class B power Cape Elizabeth (which won 13 games this season), the Hawks dropped games to Class B Leavitt (which missed the playoffs) and to Noble, another Class A Tier III team that finished this season in fifth place.

The No. 6 team is a once-mighty Cheverus, which has struggled to regain the form it displayed in the early-2000s. The Stags and Hawks met once this season, with the Hawks defeating the Stags 4-1. Wins over South Portland, Brunswick and Noble are the only wins over tourney teams for Cheverus this season.

The 4-5 Western A matchup features Falmouth and Noble. Falmouth played a difficult schedule this season, and earned a pair of very good ties with Biddeford and Lewiston. But the Yachtsmen have also had some hiccups, mopst notably a head-scratching loss to Kennebunk. With a new coach and a green goaltender, the Yachtsmen have to hope they can adjust to the playoff atmosphere in a hurry.

They’ll get the chance to do so against a Tier III school in Noble. The Knights have had an impressive season, winning 13 games. But the Knights’ strength-of-schedule hurt them in the standings, hence the visit to a nine-win team in the quarterfinals. Jesse Cotty leads the way with 34 points for Noble, and senior Ben Haskell is going to have to stand tall if the Knights stand any chance of upending Falmouth.

So, here are the picks in Western A:

#1 Biddeford over #8 South Portland, 9-1

#2 TA over #7 Scarborough, 6-2

#3 Marshwood/Traip over #6 Cheverus, 4-2

#4 Falmouth over #5 Noble, 5-0

Then…

#1 Biddeford over #4 Falmouth, 4-1

#2 TA over #3 Marshwood/Traip, 9-1

And finally…

#1 Biddeford over #2 TA, 5-3

Now, let’s move on over to Eastern Class A.

Has there been any more hype over a team than there is surrounding Lewiston this season? The Blue Devils feature a dozen seniors, the best goalie in Maine, three of the top scorers and some solid shutdown ‘D’. What the Devils don’t have, to go along with all of that hype, is an unblemished record. Lewiston tied Biddeford and Falmouth, and lost to the Tigers late in the season.

And let’s not forget what happened to the Blue Devils in last year’s semifinal round, after also drawing a bye as the East’s top seed. No. 4 St. Dom’s took them out. Hard.

The team is talking the right game, and acting on it, so far this season, remaining about as humble in a one-loss season as you can. They again upended rival St. Dom’s twice, just like last season, and the teams again appear to be on a collision course to meet in a meaningful playoff contest. The fact that Lewiston has a week off could help heal the various nicks and bruises, and the fact that they get to face an opponent that isn’t St. Dom’s in the semifinal should help, too.

Speaking of the Saints…St. Dom’s is rolling along at the right time. A 5-0 loss to TA in the final game of the season notwithstanding, the Saints have finished the season on a roll. They won 12 games this season, equaling a five-year best, and pulled out and important tie with Biddeford. Alex Parker leads the team emotionally and on the scoresheet, with 36 points (18 goals). Sophomore Dakota Keene chipped in with 28, and is among the top sophomores in Maine.

One place the Saints really answered some questions this season was between the pipes. A pair of sophomore goalies have really come up big this season for the Saints, and no matter which keeper the coaches decide on in the playoffs, the team will be well-covered in that area.

The Saints draw No. 7 Brunswick in the first round. Brunswick hasn’t played in more than two weeks, and had resigned itself to missing the playoffs — until a tie between Messalonskee and MHW late in the season gave the Dragons enough points to vault Edward Little.

Brunswick is going to have to pull off the upset of the season if it hopes to win. Possible? Perhaps. Likely? No.

The 3-6 matchup, like the one in Western A, is intriguing. Two very different clubs with very different styles clash. No. 3 Poland/Gray-NG hosts a playoff game for the first time. Ever. The ice at Ingersoll Arena in Auburn is hard and fast, which plays into the Patriotic Knights’ style. They are built on speed, and will have to rely on that speed, the scoring prowess of top player Kolby Arnold, and the goaltending of Matt Ouellette, to defeat the No. 6 Bangor Rams.

Bangor has been up and down this season. The Rams have won 10 games, but just three of those have come against teams in the playoffs in Class A. They did defeat Waterville and MHW, though, a pair of teams that gave Poland/Gray-NG trouble this season. Bangor is traditionally a tall, thick bunch of players who like to play physical hockey. If they can keep up with Poland/Gray-NG, this is going to be a fun matchup.

The 4-5 in Eastern A is also a mystery. Like the 3-6, these teams didn’t play against one another during the regular season. No. 4 Waterville has had a roller coaster season, with solid games against top teams, and questionnable outcomes against perceived lesser opponents. There’s no doubt that the team will be on top of its game heading into the playoffs, as the Panthers always are. Two years removed from its last state crown, Waterville isn’t likely going to get there again this season, but it has enough to continue its streak of at least one playoff victory.

No. 5 MHW is another mystery. But the team’s scores against the top flight schools in Eastern A (0-4, outscored 26-5 against Nos. 1, 2 and 3) tell the story. The Hawks have had an impressive season, but Waterville is cut more in the mold of the Lewistons and St. Dom’s than in the mold of a Messalonskee or a Cony.

Alrighty then…the picks for Eastern Class A:

#2 St. Dom’s over #7 Brunswick, 9-0

#6 Bangor over #3 Poland/Gray-NG, 4-3 (OT)

#4 Waterville over #5 MHW, 7-2

Then…

#1 Lewiston over #4 Waterville, 5-1

#2 St. Dom’s over #6 Bangor, 4-1

And finally (drum roll, please)…

#1 Lewiston over #2 St. Dom’s, 4-2 (empty-netter)

Just for fun, I’ll do a quick bracket for Class B, as well:

 

Eastern Class B

#4 Lawrence over #5 Presque Isle, 5-1

Then…

#1 Brewer over #4 Lawrence, 9-1

#2 Houlton/Hodgdon over #3 Old Town, 5-2

Finally…

#1 Brewer over #2 Houlton/Hodgdon, 7-2

Western Class B

#1 Greely over #4 Yarmouth, 5-1

#2 York over #3 Cape Elizabeth, 4-3

And then…

#1 Greely over #2 York, 4-2

Thanks everyone, and we hope to see you at the rink!

We’ll do live chats/blogs from this weekend’s Class A semifinal action from the Colisee, too! Join us at www.sunjournal.com!


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