LEWISTON — The Lewiston and Leavitt/Edward Little girls’ hockey programs know they are regional and state championship contenders.
That’s the long-term view. In the here-and-now, with a total of nine seniors between them, the neighbors never know exactly what to expect on any given regular-season night when they hit the ice.
Take Lewiston’s 6-1 victory Wednesday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee. It stands in stark contrast to a 3-1 loss in Auburn on Dec. 8 and allowed the Blue Devils (9-2) to leapfrog the Red Hornets (8-2) for No. 1 in the Eastern Class A Heal Point standings.
“We have a lot of young kids, and like we tell them, everybody’s got an issue. Does the crowd bother you? Does the pressure of playing the top team get to you?” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “Everybody’s got to work those things out. If we do it together I think it’s going to be that much easier. Everybody got on the same page tonight. It’s an inexact science, unfortunately.”
Sophomore Erica Lemieux notched three goals and an assist to lead the Devils.
Brianna Lajoie, one of only three Lewiston seniors, made 26 saves. Shaylin Collins broke up the shutout with 2:50 remaining.
“We came out fighting hard. We started hard and we finished hard. We didn’t stop for anything,” Lajoie said. “It was a really important win. It’ll help our confidence.”
Lemieux capped her hat trick on a short-handed breakaway with 3:45 left, swiping the puck from Danica Nadeau near center ice and skating in alone on Leavitt/EL goalie Tori Sanford.
Sam Cote, Corinne Laberge and Natalie Rousseau also scored for the Blue Devils.
After Lemieux landed the opening goal 2:03 into the contest, she combined with Erin Hubbard to set up Cote for a 2-0 lead that held up until intermission.
“We didn’t go out and execute a lot of the things that we’ve been telling the girls. We had a lot of breakdowns. Early in the game we had a couple of breakdowns in the defensive zone that cost us,” Leavitt/Edward Little coach Shon Collins said. “The second goal stands out in my mind. We had a defenseman right next to the player that scored the goal and didn’t tie her up, didn’t do anything.”
Mikaela Brown fed Lemieux’s breakaway goal for a 3-0 advantage with 1:41 remaining in the second period.
It was only Lewiston’s eighth shot on goal. By that time, Lajoie already had made 18 saves.
“I definitely saw the puck well. I just sort of took it shot by shot and went from there,” Lajoie said. “I gave it my all tonight. We needed this win.”
Brown bagged her second assist of the night on Laberge’s goal 45 seconds into the third period.
Sydney Nadeau and Emma Martineau had the assists on Collins’ goal for the Red Hornets, who have lost two of three after a 7-0 start.
“I don’t think we had enough girls skating tonight and wanting it bad enough,” Shon Collins said. “It shows the girls that we’re not as good maybe as the early season results were leading us to believe and that we’ve got to put some more hard work into it. We’ve got to be stronger mentally.”