LEWISTON — The penalty-killing unit kept them in the game. The power play put it away.
St. Dom’s netted a pair of power-play goals — one each in the first and second periods — and added a power-play tally in the third as the Saints rallied from a one-goal deficit to post a 4-2 victory over Biddeford at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Wednesday in a key Class A showdown.
“We increased our power-play percentage tonight. Too bad we don’t get bonus points for the shorthanded ones,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “It’s just another brutal game on the schedule as far as the competition goes. I’m happy. The guys are playing well; they’re not panicking.”
The Saints had lost two in a row prior to Wednesday’s contest to drop to 8-5-0, while Biddeford is trying to stay afloat in Western A. The Tigers are now 5-7-2, having played one of the toughest schedules in Class A this season.
And the Tigers looked good early against St. Dom’s. Until they went on the power play.
“Special teams have been killing us, clearly,” Biddeford coach Rich Reissfelder said. “I think that killed us the whole game. Two shorthanded goals and then they get a power-play goal. Five-on-five hockey, we outscored them 2-1.”
After reeling off five consecutive shots at even strength without any favorable results, the Saints went down a man. It proved to be the spark they needed. Cody Rodrigue won an offensive-zone faceoff to himself in the left circle and quickly snapped a shot at the cage, surprising Biddeford keeper Jon Fields and beating the keeper for a 1-0 St. Dom’s advantage.
“Cody really stepped it up tonight,” Ouellette said. “He played a very good game, did a nice job.”
Biddeford regrouped on a second power play, and although the Tigers didn’t score, they started to gain some momentum. Twenty-six seconds after its second power play ended, Biddeford got on the board, turning a bad turnover inside the Saints’ blue line into a tally. Mario Lemieux swiped the puck from a pair of Saints looking to break the zone. He fired the puck on net to the far post. St. Dom’s goalie Grant Carrier kicked it away, but right to Nate Crepeau, who lofted the puck into the cage to knot the game at one.
“We’ve had a problem with that,” Ouellette said. “We get into that final minute of play and, I don’t know if we’re relaxing, or if we’re just thinking of being a hero, but it seems like we try to make that one extra move, and it comes back to cost us. Teams are taking advantage of it”
Biddeford surprised the Saints with an early burst of energy in the middle frame, leading to a 2-1 advantage for the visitors. Matt Jerome found Stephen Comar for a breakaway on which Comar scored with a deke to the backhand, leaving Carrier sprawled on his back as the puck floated into the cage.
“When they got that 2-1 lead, they seemed to step it up a bit,” Ouellette said. “They played well.”
The Saints again found magic while shorthanded later in the second. This time Rodrigue picked the Tigers’ defense’s pocket and fed a pass across to Danny Nadeau at the right post. Nadeau banged it home to again knot the score.
The shorthanded surge appeared to give St. Dom’s momentum, and the Saints rattled off the next four shots in succession, aided by their first power play of the contest. But Fields was equal to the challenge for the Tigers.
“He’s been great, really since Christmas,” Reissfelder said. “He gives us a chance every game, which is nice.”
The third period was all St. Dom’s. The Saints held a 12-2 advantage in the frame in shots, and more importantly, struck twice for goals.
The first came on the power play, a passing play that put the puck on defenseman Cam Hainey’s stick. The senior zipped the puck on net and it beat Fields high glove. St. Dom’s added another 59 seconds later when Spencer Martin tapped home a feed from Chris Finlay on a 2-on-1 rush to give their team a bit of a cushion.
“Third period, it was the bounces, the energy, I don’t know,” Reissfelder said. “I don’t know if we ran out of gas, or they tightened it up. But give them credit.”
“We’re skating well, and it’s showing,” Ouellette said. “We’re happy with the effort.”