AUBURN — Every good team loses during the season.
That’s the message Edward Little coach Craig Latuscha echoed to his players following a 4-1 loss to Bangor on Saturday at Norway Savings Bank Arena to open the season. It wasn’t the way Edward Little wanted to start the season, but it isn’t hanging its head after coming up short in its opener.
“I was very impressed with the way my team played today,” Latuscha said. “We played one of the top two teams in the East that’s going to contend for an Eastern Maine title. They’ve got some big boys out there, some talented players.”
What began as a promising start quickly fizzled into a nightmarish end to the first period. After dominating the first half of the opening stanza, recording the first eight shots on net, Edward Little saw Bangor score twice in the final 2:21.
Owen Trundy put the Rams in front at 12:39 of the first period, redirecting a shot in front from a shot off the stick of Ben Criction from the blue line and past Edward Little goaltender Devin Dumont.
Bangor (1-0) doubled its advantage in the final minute as a shot by Brennan Lane from just inside the blue line found its way through heavy traffic in front and over Dumont’s stick-side shoulder for a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. The Rams recorded 10 of the final 11 shots in the opening frame.
“Overall we’re happy with the win today,” Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. “It was a tough one. I was impressed with the way they played. It was a tough road trip coming down in the storm and not knowing whether we were going to play today. We were a little sluggish at first but we got the bus legs out of us and played very well.”
Edward Little had several quality scoring opportunities in the first 15 minutes, but Bangor goaltender Derek Fournier stood on his head. He finished with 25 saves.
“You just try your best to get a couple shots on goal and he makes a couple good saves,” Edward Little junior forward Matt Verrill said. “You can’t get mad at him, you just have to respect him and work harder.”
The Red Eddies (0-1) responded in the second period and halved their deficit. Verrill scored Edward Little’s first goal of the 2014-15 campaign, crashing the net to bury the loose puck. Cody Woodward was credited with the assist and sacrificed his body in the process. Woodward took a big hit at the right circle, but Verrill was in the right place at the right time as Edward Little climbed to within 2-1 after two periods.
“I feel we played a really good game overall,” Verrill said. “In past years we’ve gotten blown out by them, so I think for our first game this is a really good step up for us and we’ll come in flying in practice on Monday. This was a good test for us.”
The comeback attempt fell short as Bangor scored twice in the third period. Andrew Elston reclaimed Bangor’s two-goal advantage at 2:34 of the frame with a backhander that beat Dumont five-hole. Nick Graham salted the game away three minutes later to make it 4-1.
“We knew we lost the second period,” Paradis said. “They outplayed us. We knew we had to get one early in the third period. We got the two-goal lead and from there on the bounces seemed to go our way.”
Latuscha believed Saturday’s result was a step in the right direction.
“I’m pretty proud of my kids,” Latuscha said. “I really am. To start off against Bangor and play like that for three periods is a steeping stone. We’re only going to get better.”