St. Dominic’s Jack Ouellette moves the puck past Edward Little’s Alex Landry during the hometown match up at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
AUBURN — Having gone a week since their last game and with practice schedules disrupted by the holidays and the foul weather, both St. Dom’s and Edward Little had some rust to shake off during Wednesday night’s Class A North boys’ hockey showdown.
St. Dom’s junior goalie Gaston Fuksa was sharp in net, however, and the Saints’ offense opportunistic in blanking the Red Eddies, 4-0, at Norway Savings Bank Arena.
Fuksa stopped 20 shots to earn the shutout. Will Fletcher scored two goals and notched an assist as the Saints jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first two minutes and improved to 3-1-1.
“My style is to be a very aggressive as a goalie,” Fuksa said. “The defense did a great job blocking shots and clearing the crease.”
“Gaston did a really good job,” Saints coach Bob Parker. “He kept us in the game. And as you can tell, it doesn’t take the hardest shots to go in all the time. A goalie is going to give up some lighter ones at times.”
EL (3-2-0) matched the Saints in shots overall, 20-20, and outshot them, 7-4, in the first period. But St. Dom’s got on the board just 1:14 after the opening faceoff when Fletcher collected the puck in the slot and, as he drifted into the right circle, flipped a high wrist shot past EL goalie Ben Feldman (16 saves).
“I just kind of threw it on net and it went in,” Fletcher said. “It felt good to get the first one. We might have been a little bit rusty, but I think we were firing and ready for the game.”
Lucas Pushard made it 2-0 5:49 into the game when he collected a pass to the left wing from Fletcher and fired from just inside the blue line to beat Feldman’s glove.
“We got ourselves in a hole right off and I thought that hurt us,” EL coach Norm Gagne said. “I thought we let in two goals that were soft. I don’t really know whether my goalie didn’t see it or was screened, but we got in a hole and we started to unravel a little bit.”
The game turned more physical quickly, with the Red Eddies doing little more with the period’s two power plays than padding their shot advantage. Feldman kept the Saints from making it 3-0 with a glove save to deny Mack Pelletier as he broke in to attempt a shorthanded goal from point-blank range.
Fuksa’s aggressiveness in the crease kept the Eddies from cutting the deficit in half early in the second period when he dove to stop Ben Lane-Robichaud’s shot after a nice pass in front by Reed Chapman.
Fletcher scored his second goal on a rebound to Feldman’s left for a 3-0 lead 9:03 into the second. Just 13 seconds later, Zach Pelletier blocked a shot from just inside his own blue line, then hustled to collect the loose puck for a breakaway goal.
“We changed our forecheck a little, handed out a little more responsibilities to certain players and asked more of them,” Parker said. “We also wanted to create kind of like a three-on-three down low around their goalie and get more shots. We weren’t doing it in the first period. Second period, we started keeping the puck down low. Cycle it low, come out of the corners and attack the net.”
A puck struck one of the officials in the face with 1:51 left in the second period. After a brief delay, both teams went to the locker room for intermission. Once a replacement official was found, the period resumed and eventually concluded before both teams skated through a scoreless third period.
“I thought the third period we settled down and played a decent period,” Gagne said. “We did some of the things that I like to see us do. We tried to stretch the ice. We didn’t always connect on our passes, but we’re getting there.”
The game counts as a regular-season meeting for both teams but was also part of the St. Dom’s Christmas Classic, which continues on Thursday. EL will play Medway at 3 p.m., while St. Dom’s will host Notre Dame (Fairfield) at 7 p.m.
St. Dominic’s Lucas Pushard reacts after scoring a goal during Wednesday night’s hockey game at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)St. Dominic’s Mack Pelletier keeps control of the puck while being persued by Edward Little’s Marius Morneau and Logan Alexander during Wednesday night’s hockey game at the Norway Savings bank Arena. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)Edward Little’s Reed Chapman shoots the puck past St. Dominic’s Michael Cilley during the home town match up at the Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday evening. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)