LEWISTON — Question a soft spot or two on Bangor’s early schedule, if you wish. Wonder how the Rams would weather an unexpected, in-season coaching change, if you must.
The Rams of January are no different than the Rams of November and December: Eastern Class A boys’ hockey co-favorites, at the very least, if you wondered.
Sophomore Jordan Tracy’s hat trick helped Bangor extend its season-opening streak to six victories with a 6-3 triumph Wednesday night over St. Dom’s at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Tracy’s third goal, furnished by Parker Sanderson’s pass from behind the net, gave Bangor a 5-3 lead 45 seconds into the third period. Zach Papsadora’s second goal of the evening, a blast from left side at the end of a breakaway, iced it with 9:11 to go.
“It’s a huge win because they knocked us out in the semifinals last year,” Tracy said.
Sanderson, a senior, had four assists for Bangor. He and Tracy have combined for 21 goals and 22 assists in six games.
Bangor has overcome the loss of coach Denis Collins, who resigned after an incident on the bus ride to Presque Isle for the second game of the season. But the Rams’ roll has continued under interim coach Quinn Paradis.
“We’ve overcome a lot of adversity so far,” Sanderson said. “We came out tonight and played Bangor hockey. We had it going up and down the ice.”
With only four seniors on its roster, St. Dom’s (1-3-1) has lost to Class A powers Falmouth, Thornton and Bangor and tied rival Lewiston in a challenging start to the campaign.
“I think it’s beyond still being young,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “Now they’ve just got to put it all together.”
Freshman Austin Roy’s first varsity goal kept the Saints within one at 4-3 entering the final period.
The third time was the charm for the Saints. Brad Berube and Chase Hainey each were denied at close range before Roy found a seam around Bangor goalie Rye Powell with 3:50 remaining in the second.
St. Dom’s also got a lift from Grant Carrier, who made 13 second-period saves after replacing Austin Christopher when Sam Kenney scored to make it 4-2 at 3:14.
Bangor led 3-2 at the end of a free-wheeling first period, getting the jump 25 seconds into the game and twice answering an equalizer by St. Dom’s.
Tracy tallied twice in the period. He redirected the rebound after St. Dom’s goalie Christopher denied Sanderson’s bid on the Rams’ first shot of the game. Justin Courtney also picked up an assist.
“Coming out quick is always our key. We scored first shift every period. We knew if we came out hard we couldn’t be stopped,” Sanderson said. “The first period, they came out hard too. It was great back-and-forth hockey.”
The Saints answered in almost identical fashion after the ensuing faceoff. Powell snuffed out Caleb Labrie’s initial try, but Kyle Holtet cleaned up the loose puck and found a seam from the right circle inside the near post.
Papsadora followed his own shot after a Christopher save for a 2-1 lead with 7:09 remaining in the stanza. Tracy and Courtney assisted.
“This was the first real test of the year. Every time they’d score, we’d score,” Paradis said. “Every first and second shift of a period, we’d put one in.”
Back came St. Dom’s, on another rebound and on another superb shift by its first line. Labrie returned the favor and wristed home Holtet’s leftovers with 4:12 left.
Cam Stewart notched assists on both St. Dom’s goals.
“They got the first goal and we tied it, which was a nice response. They got the second goal, we tied it, another nice response. We left the third goal wide open. We didn’t play great (defensive) zone obviously,” Ouellette said. “They scored the goal to start the second period and we started looking intimidated. Bangor tonight I guess showed that they’re a top contender.”
Bangor bagged the lead before the first intermission when Tracy polished off a 2-on-1 courtesy of a nifty drop pass from Sanderson with 2:30 to go.
The Rams’ previous most quality wins came at the expense of Maranacook/Hall-Dale/Winthrop, Brunswick and Brewer.
“Any time you come down here it’s a big win. Hopefully we can win a few more games here this year,” Paradis said, referring to the regional and state playoffs.