LEWISTON — It took more than 60 minutes of playing time, and an eerily familiar fortunate bounce, but Leavitt/Edward Little finally found a way to solve Lewiston freshman keeper Paige Fontaine.
And it happened three times.
The Red Hornets parlayed that good bounce and a nifty deke from Tori Couture into a pair of goals in the middle frame and a tenacious defense held the Blue Devils to fewer than 10 shots on the contest as Leavitt/EL skated to an important 3-0 victory over Lewiston at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday.
"At the beginning of this week, we were having some trouble with our defensive-zone coverage and scoring goals," Leavitt/EL coach Eric Geoffroy said. "On a good goalie, you get traffic and you get the rebounds.
Lewiston won the first meeting of the teams early in the season on a goal scored off a funky bounce in front of Leavitt/EL keeper Tori Sanford, the only goal in a 1-0 contest. This time, the Red Hornets made sure even fewer pucks made it through to Sanford.
"We worked on that a lot in practice, how to beat a good goalie and we really focused on d-zone coverage, and that made all the difference today," Geoffroy said.
The Devils, meanwhile, went through a tough scoreless stretch in the middle part of the season, but had found their scoring touch of late. That scoring touch disappeared Saturday.
"I just didn't think we could string anything together," Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. "It was always just one person through, and their defense is strong enough that one person isn't going to do that much damage."
Leavitt/EL carried play from the beginning, forcing the issue against the stalwart Lewiston defenders. Fontaine made the requisite saves, and got plenty of help from her defenders on potential second-chance opportunities.
Lewiston's lone pair of shots in the opening frame came in rapid succession, and the first nearly trickled in past Sanford, who lunged backward to snag the puck off the goal line to preserve the 0-0 deadlock.
"She might have had a tougher game to deal with than Paige did at the other end," Geoffroy said. "As a goalie, I hated those games where you don't see a lot of pucks, it's tough to get into a rhythm. So she did well back there."
Danica Nadeau ended Fontaine's streak of scoreless hockey against Leavitt/EL at 64:52, and had a bit of help in the process. Taking a feed from Emma Martineau, Nadeau fired the puck toward the cage. It glanced off a Lewiston defender, caught Fontaine moving in the wrong direction and slid into the cage for a 1-0 Red Hornets advantage.
"I think we're a good-enough hockey team to win a game against a team like this, but we just didn't compete tonight," Dumont said. "We started flat and we let them control it. They play hard, they stay on the forecheck, and we just have to learn to handle that adversity."
Couture added another for the Red Hornets at 13:20 to give her team a cushion, an important part of quashing any thought of a Lewiston comeback.
Taylor Landry iced the contest at 9:39 of the third period with another deflection goal, this a backhander from the left corner that caromed off a skate in front and beat Fontaine 5-hole.
Lewiston attempted to press in the final frame, but the Leavitt/EL defense was too strong. The Blue Devils managed only two shots on goal in the third, and only seven on the game.
"Sometimes things aren't going your way, and you have to work through it," Dumont said.