The Blue Devils and Red Hornets entered the contest as the state’s last two unbeaten teams. The winner would hold the designation of being the final team with an unblemished mark. More importantly, the winner would take sole possession of first place in the Eastern region.
Lewiston skated away with that honor, as Allison Frechette netted the lone goal in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Red Hornets at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“Allison played one heck of a game,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “She’s a great kid. She always comes to compete. This is one of her best games ever. She really came to play. Not taking anything away from the rest of them, because they worked really hard too, but she did a real good job tonight.”
Through two periods neither team was willing to give an inch as they skated to a scoreless stalemate after 30 minutes of play. It was the longest stretch of time without a goal to start a game for Lewiston (7-0), which had scored at least two goals in the first period of every game.
“The kids love games like this, even though they get nervous,” Dumont said. “From a coach’s perspective it was just the best for me. It gives you new life. This was really close, of course they’re just across the river and everything so it makes it a rivalry. Auburn played really, really good. I told the girls coming in, I said, ‘We haven’t had a lot of really competitive games, and don’t think this team is just going to move over for you. They’re not like that.’ “
It was the second time the Red Hornets (6-1) had entered the third period without a goal. They netted three in the third in a 3-1 victory against Falmouth.
The momentum shifted to Lewiston’s side following a five-minute major assessed to Leavitt/EL/Poland’s Saige Arsenault for checking from behind along the Red Hornets’ bench. After the Red Hornets killed off half the penalty with relative ease, Dumont called a timeout to give his players a breather, and it paid off.
With 5:03 remaining, Frechette circled around the cage and backhanded a shot past Red Hornets goaltender Savannah Shaw. The goal was her seventh of the season, second on the team behind Lauren DeBlois (12).
“It gave us a good opportunity to get more offense going,” Frechette said of the extended power play. “Obviously, they have a really good defense, but we all worked as a team on the power play and generated as much offense as could out of it.”
Erin Hubbard had the assist on the game-winning goal, her third of the season.
“I saw all the open ice,” Hubbard said. “They were all coming toward me because I had the puck, and (Frechette) was just open. She called for it, so I passed it to her, and it went in.”
Needing a goal in the final minute to force overtime, the Red Hornets pulled Shaw for an extra skater. However, the energy used to kill off the major penalty caught up to them at the end as they were unable to generate any offense with the extra skater.
“You’re on the penalty kill, and you’re using a lot of the same players you’re going to look to for energy later, and you could see after that was done the last three minrutes we couldn’t find that energy,” Red Hornets coach Shon Collins said. “We’d burned it out with those players killing off the penalty.”
Saturday’s game was uncharted territory for the Blue Devils, who hadn’t led by fewer than three goals in the third period at any point this season. For the first time, there were some nerves going through the Lewiston bench.
“I was a little bit nervous, but it’s about having fun and the sun’s going to come up tomorrow,” Frechette said. “Whatever happens, happens, but I was a little nervous. Just a little bit.”
Shaw did all she could to keep a Lewiston offense that averages seven goals per game at bay. She finished with 29 saves.
“I told my girls that I’m extremely proud,” Collins said. “They gave us everything we were looking for against a very strong offensive team. I’m looking forward to more games like that. I think our girls can really build off this.”
Lewiston goaltender Paige Fontaine finished with 11 saves.
The teams meet again Jan. 7 in Auburn.