LEWISTON — It took a while for Lewiston to get its legs churning and to connect on its passes Tuesday.
But once the Blue Devils started, there was no stopping them.
Matt Poulin registered a hat trick, Jake Bergeron added a pair of goals and Brian Wigant needed to make only three saves as Lewiston rolled to an 8-0 victory over Skowhegan in the teams’ Eastern Class A quarterfinal matchup at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“A lot of times, against team like this, you have to figure out what they’re playing for a defense,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “You have to see what your options are. They were taking away the points early on, and a lot of teams against us don’t do that. We had to make that adjustment, and when we did, we ended up having some success.”
The top-ranked Blue Devils (14-4-1) advance to the Eastern Class A semifinal round, where they will face No. 4 Cony, an overtime winner over MHW on Tuesday.
“We scored eight goals, and we’re a team that doesn’t usually score a lot of goals,” Belleau said. “They had a great season; my hat goes off to them. We did what we needed to do, and now we’ll worry about playing Cony on Saturday.”
Lewiston began its game against Skowhegan looking like it was stuck in a low gear. The Devils’ passes didn’t reach their intended targets, their strides were short and choppy and, as a result, the Indians hung around in a scoreless game for the better part of 10 minutes.
“It was a little bit of a slow start,” Belleau said. “That’s not all that unexpected. Once we started moving our legs and moving the puck, we had some success.”
Poulin finally got the home team on the board at 11:12 when he popped in a rebound from the left post past Skowhegan keeper Sam Edmondson.
The Devils nearly gave that one back as Matt Therrien found himself in the penalty box on a five-minute major for elbowing. But a subsequent call to Skowhegan evened things up at 4-on-4, and Lewiston cashed in twice. Brett Vallee crept in down low and converted a Bergeron feed for a 2-0 lead, and Poulin added his second 16 seconds later to push the lead to 3-0.
“After we got a three-goal lead, we started rolling all four lines,” Belleau said. “I’m pleased we didn’t make a lot of mistakes, I’m glad we didn’t give them a lot of quality scoring opportunities and we moved the puck pretty well in the offensive zone.”
The carnage continued in the second frame. Bergeron netted a pair in the first four minutes, followed by single tallies from Brandon Tiner (on an end-to-end rush) and Max Bolduc (on a one-timer down low).
Poulin capped his hat trick in the final minutes of the third, banking one past Edmondson on a feed from Desmond Gagne at 12:54.