Coach Chris Thurlow’s Old Town-Orono Black Bears begin their title defense Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they host Brewer in the quarterfinals at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena.
Old Town-Orono, 12-4 and a three-time defending Class B North champion, is the third seed, while 8-8-1 Brewer is sixth.
In the other quarter-finals, No. 2 Hampden Academy, on a five-game winning streak including two wins over Old Town-Orono (2-1, 4-1), will host No. 10 Almost Isle (4-13 ) at Bangor Sawyer Arena at 7 p.m., Camden Hills No. 4 (10-4) entertains Bangor No. 5 John Bapst (9-7-1) at the MidCoast Recreation Center in Rockport at 7 p.m. and heads to Oakland’s Messalonskee (10-2-1) takes on No. 8 Gardiner (7-9) at the Camden National Bank Ice Vault in Hallowell at 6 p.m.
Almost Isle upset number 7 Cony/Monmouth/Erskine/Mt. Blue Richmond 8-4 in a preliminary round match, Brewer ousted No. 11 Houlton/Hodgdon/Greater Houlton Christian Academy 7-2 and Gardiner knocked out No. 9 Maranacook/Winthrop/Spruce Mountain/Hall-Dale / Lawrence 4-1.
In Class A, the Bangor High School Rams finished 14-3 and won the second seed behind 16-2 Edward Little High School of Auburn. Both teams earned byes in the first round.
Bangor will host the winner of the preliminary round match between No. 7 Scarborough (9-8-1) and No. 10 Portland/Deering (6-10) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Sawyer Arena.
Thurlow said it’s the highest parity he’s seen in B North in his four years behind the Black Bear bench.
“It’s pretty wide open,” he said. “There have always been some [favorites] but it’s a little deeper this year. You can make an argument for one of the eight remaining teams.
The Hampden Academy Broncos are the hottest team in the playoffs with their five-game winning streak.
“They played us hard. The first game was close, but the second time around they completely outplayed us for all three periods,” Thurlow said. “It wasn’t a great effort on our part.”
He said forward Khaleb Hale (13 goals, 13 assists) and defenseman Cameron Henderson (9 and 16) are the catalysts for Hampden Academy.
“Khaleb Hale is one of the best forwards in the league. He’s good around the net. He has a knack for scoring,” Thurlow said. net.”
The Black Bears are 3-3 in their last six games and Thurlow said his team will need to play better than they have in those six games to win four straight regional titles.
“I like that we have 10 players who have significant playoff experience,” Thurlow said.
Old Town-Orono was led by the Davis brothers, linemates Jacob (20 and 13) and Dylan (11 and 13) as well as defender Connor McCannell (6 and 8).
Brewer have won four of their last five games, including a 5-0 win over a John Bapst side that beat Messalonskee 5-0.
“Brewer has really started. They’re going to be a tough opponent,” Thurlow said.
Grady Vanidestine (16 and 18), Nick Lamprecht (8 and 9) and defenseman Jed Gilpatrick (6 and 10) led the Witches, who lost 5-1 and 7-1 to Old Town-Orono in the regular season.
In addition to Hale and Henderson, Hampden was picked up by Matthew Shyne (17 and 9), Morgan Tash (8 and 18) and goaltender Aaron Donovan (1.18 goals-against average, .944 save percentage).
Almost Isle, which lost to Hampden 8-0, 7-2 on the season, includes Dawson Kinney (14 & 6), Garrett LeTourneau (11 & 6) and Jonah Roy (5 & 13).
Camden Hills rode a five-game winning streak by Old Town-Orono 2-0 in the regular season finale while John Bapst picked up a four-game victory that ended Brewer 5-0.
Camden Hills has three players with double-digit goals in Owen McManus (14 & 4), Jakob Johnson (11 & 4) and Emmet Marshall (10 & 6). Goaltender Jackson Bernier has a 1.75 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Carter Walls (10 & 14), Aiden Dunn (11 & 6) and defender Caleb Robbins (5 & 11) guided John Bapst, who lost his only meeting with Camden Hills 5-3.
Messalonskee beat Gardiner 5-3, 5-0 during the season and his catalysts were Owen Kirk (17 & 13) and Bryce Crowell (16 & 12) as well as Brandon Bearce (4 & 16).
Garret Doyle (14 & 7), Camdyn Lasselle (5 & 10) and Connor Whitley (9 & 5) are Gardiner’s top point producers.