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Goodbye SoPo....Hello Semi-Finals!

posted Feb 26, 2015, 6:57 AM by Brett Saucier
Tuesday night the Knights took care of business and won their quarterfinal playoff game vs South Portland 6-3.

Noble/Wells asserts itself in third

By John Doyle
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
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Noble/Wells forward Dean Pratt, left, celebrates a goal in front of the student cheering section before he is mobbed by teammates during Western Maine Class A quarterfinal action against South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete on Tuesday at Rochester Arena. (Doyle/Democrat photo)

ROCHESTER — Noble/Wells has played its best hockey in the third period all season long. That was the case again on Tuesday night in the Knights’ postseason opener. 

Third-seeded Noble/Wells scored thrice in the third to turn a tight game into a rout, en route to a 6-3 win over No. 6 South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (South Portland herein) in the Western Maine Class A high school hockey quarterfinals.

“We come out strong in the first period, and for some reason we usually come out flat-footed in the second,” said Noble junior forward Dean Pratt, who notched a hat trick to add to his region-leading goal total. “But in the third, that’s usually when we pick it up, and I think that’s what happened here tonight. We came out strong and put it to them.”

With the win, Noble/Wells (16-3) earned a return trip to the regional semifinals, where they will face either No. 2 Cheverus (12-5-2) or No. 7 Lake Region/Fryeburg/Oxford Hills (10-6) Saturday (time TBD) at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Those two teams face off tonight. 

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Doyle/Democrat photo Noble/Wells forward Ryan Marsh, center, slaps away at a loose puck in front of the South Portland net during Western Maine Class A quarterfinal action on Tuesday at Rochester Arena. 

South Portland’s season is over at 9-9.

“They hung in there with us,” said Noble/Wells coach Keith St. Cyr. “First period we had a lot of pressure on them but we didn’t really see the shots. Second period we were all over them and their goalie kept them in the game. In the third, they started cracking and the penalties came. We just imposed our will on them in the third.”

The Knights led 3-1 after two periods, but saw their lead cut in half by South Portland’s Max Winson, whose goal 90 seconds into the final frame made it a 3-2 game. Edward Hellier and Kyle Halvorsen assisted on the goal. 

It didn’t take long for Noble/Wells to reassert itself. A South Portland defender took an unfortunate and unforced spill in his defensive zone, and Pratt was right there to pick up the loose puck and fire it into the net unassisted for his second goal of the night at 2:13. Noble reestablished its two-goal cushion and never looked back.

“In the first period we missed a breakaway, missed an open net, missed another opportunity out front,” South Portland coach Joe Robinson said. “In these big games, you have to take advantage of those opportunities. (The) problem with our D is that they’re so young, they tend to focus on the puck instead of the body.” 

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Dean Pratt, right, of Noble/Wells tries to keep the puck away from South Portland’s Harrison Johnson during Western Maine Class A quarterfinal action on Tuesday at Rochester Arena. (Doyle/Democrat photo)

Noble/Wells outshot the Red Riots by a 42-19 margin.

The teams skated to a 1-1 tie in the first period, with Noble’s Noah Pease opening the scoring at 6:15 of the frame, assisted by Pratt and Ryan Marsh. South Portland’s top scorer, Andrew Whipple, got into the act when his slap shot from the right faceoff circle beat Noble goalie Wyatt Ricker for the equalizer at 9:43. 

Pratt put Noble back in front at 5:13 of the second period with his first of the night. After a scrum in front of the net, Pratt poked in a puck that appeared to deflect off of South Portland goalie Joe Grant to make it 2-1. Nathan DeWolf made it 3-1 in favor of the Knights when he buried a rebound of an Evan Whitten shot on a 2-on-1 break at 12:56. Noble/Wells took a 3-1 lead into the third period. 

Any hope of a South Portland comeback in the third period took a hit when Whipple (along with Noble’s Kadin Lessard) was sent to the box at 7:38 for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty with his team trailing 4-2. Shortly thereafter, with Noble on a power play, Pratt scored his second of the night to put the game out of reach at 9:20. 

South Portland’s Aidan Schifano scored at 12:03 to make it 5-3, but Pratt put the exclamation point on the win and made his hat trick complete with an unassisted tally just 49 seconds later. Pratt now has 53 goals on the season.

Noble/Wells, 6-3

Noble/Wells (16-3) 1 2 3 — 6

South Portland/Freeport/Waynflete (9-9) 1 0 2 — 3

Scoring: First period: N/W-Pease (Marsh/Pratt) 6:15; SP/F/W-Whipple (unassisted) 9:43. Second period: N/W-Pratt (Szczygiel) 5:13; N/W-DeWolf (Whitten) 12:56. Third period: SP/F/W-Winson (Hellier, Halvorsen) 1:30; N/W-Pratt (unassisted) 2:13; N/W-Pratt (Pease, Marsh) 9:20 (pp); SP/F/W-Schifano (Mitchell) 12:03; N/W-Pratt (unassisted) 12:52. 

Goalies: SP/F/W-Grant (42 shots, 36 saves); N/W-Ricker (19, 16).