AUBURN — Another St. Dominic Academy hockey game, another fellow Class A title contender wearing the opposite sweater, another big day from a player who wasn’t in the Saints’ lineup to start the season.
Dillon Pratt scored two goals in only his second game since returning from a fall concussion, leading St. Dom’s to a 4-2 victory Friday afternoon over previously undefeated Bangor in the St. Dom’s Winter Classic at Norway Savings Bank Arena.
“I was out for a couple of months,” Pratt said. “I’m feeling good.”
And after a month of sliding the pieces around the chessboard and hoping for the best, St. Dom’s and coach Steve Ouellette are near full strength.
“Really these last three days of practice are the first three days we’ve had these line combinations together, so I think we’re finally starting to get a little gel instead of one, two days and make a change,” Ouellette said. “Now we’ve got a little consistency, and we’ll probably run with these lines for a little while.”
Pratt scored the first goal for St. Dom’s (3-1) at 7:05 of the opening period on an assist from Mitch Lorenz.
Later, after the Saints gave away a 2-0 lead, Pratt piggybacked Austin Roy’s game-winner at 6:29 of the third period with an insurance goal courtesy of Brad Berube less than three minutes later.
“They pushed back,” Pratt said of Bangor. “We had to step up our game. It was reassuring to get that second goal.”
Caleb Labrie also scored a goal for St. Dom’s.
Ridge Servidio made 20 saves to pick up the victory in net for the Saints, who have one-goal victories over Scarborough and Biddeford and a loss to two-time defending state champion Falmouth on the ledger.
“The third period is going to be huge,” Ouellette said. “Any of the top teams, you can lose the game in the first, but the third period is where you’ve got to stay strong.”
Bangor (4-1) took advantage of two St. Dom’s defensive lapses and sophomore goalie Derek Fournier’s denials of back-to-back Labrie breakaways to make it a 2-2 game into the second intermission.
Trailing by a pair after Labrie’s wraparound, fed by Bryan Bonenfant and Isaac Lapointe at the 1:35 mark of the second, the Rams retaliated when Nick Graham finished a 2-on-1 with Jake Fournier only 41 seconds later.
“I was proud of the guys that we quickly bounced back,” Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. “We talk about winning periods, and we won the second period in my eyes.”
Sam Kenney collected the equalizer at 4:29 after St. Dom’s appeared to fail at trying to draw an icing call.
That led to miscommunication between Servidio and a defenseman, and Kenney exacted the toll by zeroing in and poking the puck into the net. Cam Burpee registered the assist.
“That is your ‘welcome to varsity’ moment. It wasn’t all on (Servidio). There could have been some better communication and just getting back quicker,” Ouellette said. “It just shows you that difference of how guys are going to keep forechecking right to the end and trying to get that stick on the puck, and you’ve got to be ready at all times. It shows you that difference in the level.”
Servidio settled back in, as did Fournier, who knocked down a pair of uncontested ventures by Labrie in a 30-second span. Adam Poulin missed wide with a follow-up to the first.
“He made two big saves to keep us in it,” Paradis said. “At that point we rallied behind his saves to move forward. It was huge. He kept us in it in the second period and gave us a chance to win.”
Roy scored the game-winner from the slot at 6:29 of the third after freshman defender Gavin Bates made an alert play to keep the puck in the Saints’ offensive zone.
Berube’s breakout pass left Pratt all alone against Fournier for his second goal of the matinee at 9:06.
“We started off pretty good and then in that second period we got too comfortable,” Pratt said. “They came back. Then I guess we woke up in that third period, got a goal, boosted our confidence and put another one in at the end.”
“We gave them a little too much room,” Paradis added. “They broke our defensive system down and were successful by it.”
Fournier (14 saves) later stonewalled a penalty shot by Cooper Richard to keep the final margin at two.
Pratt beat Fournier through the five-hole for the lone goal of the first period.
Lorenz and Noah Toussaint were instrumental along with Servidio in killing off a late Bangor power play and preserving the lead going into the locker room.
“I think we’re getting better,” Pratt said. “The beginning of the season we were still pretty good. There were just a few kinks we needed to work out.”
The countable game started at noon after Bangor’s lengthy bus ride and was the first of three for each club in the two-day tournament. Bangor played Cheverus and St. Dom’s squared off with Smithfield, R.I., later Friday.
Saturday’s doubleheader features Bangor against the Sentinels of Smithfield at 2 p.m. and St. Dom’s vs. Cheverus at 4 p.m.