LEWISTON — Playing without their top scorer, the Falmouth Yachtsmen needed a solid team effort against the St. Dom’s Saints on Saturday.
After a multitude of blocked shots along with a containing forechecking system that resulted in turnovers, the Yachtsmen came away with a well-earned 3-2 win at the Colisee.
Falmouth (11-4-1) played its second straight game without standout forward Brandon Tuttle, who according to coach Deron Barton “is out of the lineup until further notice.”
With Tuttle out, the visitors had five different players notch points in the scoring column. Ben Freeman’s game-winning goal at the 9:55 mark of the third broke a 2-2 tie.
“He’s definitely a big part of our game,” said Freeman of Tuttle. “We have to fill the gap. We’re strong. We’re one of the best teams in the state and we can beat anybody.”
As the Saints (11-6) tried to exit their zone, Falmouth’s Cam Bell dove at the feet of the puck-carrying defensemen and freed the puck loose. Freeman snatched up the puck with pressure coming from the side and drove to the net. He put a deke on St. Dom’s netminder Grant Carrier and when Carrier went down, the Falmouth sophomore slipped the puck in behind him.
The game appeared to be a shootout early on. The Saints jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead just 1:08 into the game. Spencer Martin’s forechecking pressure on the puck behind the Falmouth goal during a St. Dom’s line change forced an errant pass up the boards. Senior defensemen Cam Hainey settled the fluttering puck before stepping into the slot and blasting a slap shot into the top corner with a screen from Martin.
The Yachtsmen answered with a pair of goals within an 18-second span midway through the opening period. Mitchell Tapley put the visitors on the board by popping home a rebound off a Connor Jordan shot over the shoulder of Carrier (21 saves). Seconds later it was Andre Clement swiping the puck away from a St. Dom’s defensemen in the slot. He then walked in and tucked the puck past Carrier.
The Saints were careless with the puck in their own end throughout the first period and that played into the Yachtsmen forecheck.
“The last time we played them, we knew they could be exposed down low,” said Barton. “We put in a containing forecheck. It did work.”
The Saints tied the game with 11:10 gone in the opening period. Martin again was the one initiating the scoring play as he carried the puck down the left side and put it into the crease area. From there, Chris Finlay wristed a shot into the top corner past prone Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls (23 saves).
The rest of the game was a defensive battle with both teams packing the area down low.
“We both blocked a lot of shots,” said St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette. “Every team tries to pay more attention to the front of the net and blocking it with bodies. We kind of set up high. Getting to that extra rebound is a tough job to do.”
The Yachtsmen took shot blocking to a new level in the third. Early in the period, the Saints’ Kyle Holtet had the puck come across to him in the crease. He quickly fired a wrist shot which appeared to be an easy goal, but a hustling Ethan Low slid into the breach to block the attempt with his body. Later in the period it was Andrew Emple going down to block an attempt by Cody Rodrigue.
The Saints were able to fire six of their 12 third-period shots on goal during a power play early in the period. Unfortunately for the Saints, all six attempts ended up being harmless wrist shots from the perimeter and were easily stopped by Pauls.
“We were trying to keep the shots to the outside,” said Barton. “The shots that did come through we wanted to make sure (Pauls) would see the shots.”