LEWISTON — Ron Dumont had a significant hole to fill and only a glimmer of an idea on how to fill it.
The Lewiston girls’ hockey team needed a goaltender. Senior Bri Lajoie had graduated from a team that reached the Eastern A semifinals last year.
Dumont had no experienced netminder returning. So the plan was for some yet-to-be named Blue Devil to have a crash course on goaltending during the summer.
“Our discussion in looking ahead was that we were going to have to find somebody during the summer,” the Lewiston coach said. “Somebody was going to get drafted.”
Before the summer of 2013 arrived though, and some Lewiston hockey player was reluctantly adding goaltender to their hockey resume, Dumont learned that Paige Fontaine was returning.
“That changed things considerably for this team,” Dumont said.
Fontaine had played regularly for the Blue Devils as a freshman. She decided to spend her sophomore year at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Mass.
“It wasn’t unexpected that she was going to go to try the prep school route,” Dumont said. “We wished her the best of luck. We hated to lose her. Certainly she was preparing to do that and give that a go and see how that worked for her.”
Lajoie gave the Blue Devils an experienced goalie last year. Lewiston finished second and lost to Leavitt-Edward Little in overtime of the regional semifinals.
About the same time, Fontaine was having second thoughts about her time at St. Mark’s. She had spent much of the season as the backup.
“It’s not as much fun when you’re sitting on the bench,” Fontaine said. “I decided it would be better for me because I missed home and I missed my parents and everyone. So I decided to come back so I could be with my team.”
After a strong freshman season with the Blue Devils, she wanted to try something different and see what it might do for her hockey career. That’s what she took a chance with the prep school last year.
“I thought it would be a good chance to try it out,” Fontaine said. “I thought it would be a good idea to get a feeling about how hockey was down there, just in case I wanted to go to college down there.”
By season’s end, she was contemplating a return home and let Dumont know before summer that his goaltending worries were over.
“We needed to decide who we’d put in the net,” Dumont said. “She was a godsend in that regard.
“But it was more than the hockey side of it. She’s a great kid. She’s an easy kid to coach. She’s always engaged. She was a great teammate. So it was a plus to have her comeback but it did solve a lot of problems really quick.”
She brought instant credibility to the crease and it made for an easy transition for the team to welcome her back.
“She’s someone we can rely on and trust every day to stop the puck,” Dumont said. “It’s remarkable after a year away and not getting a lot of playing time that she could come in to a playing atmosphere and do as well as she did.”
Fontaine played some during the summer and attended some clinics as well, including one at the University of Maine. It was an adjustment to be back playing regularly again, but it didn’t take long for her to feel comfortable.
“It took a little while to get the rust out,” Fontaine said. “I came back pretty strong. I knew where I had to be. I’m so used to playing goalie that it’s just a natural thing.”
Lewiston went 13-4-1 this year and earned the second seed once again. The Blue Devils allowed just 18 goals this season and had eight shutouts.
“It feels so good to be back,” Fontaine said. “I absolutely love the team. Everyone’s been so good together. I can’t wait to see how playoffs are going to be.”
Lewiston hosts Greely Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Norway Saving Bank Arena. The game was originally scheduled for the Colisee Friday but ice issues have left the rink unplayable until next week. Lewiston had to reschedule for Saturday at the NSBA in Auburn.
“We played all year to get home ice advantage and we’re playing away,” Dumont said. “But, it is what it is.”
Lewiston swept Greely (12-6) during the regular season. The Blue Devils won the first game at home 6-1 and then beat the Rangers last weekend on the road, 2-1.
“I’m excited,” Fontaine said. “I know a bunch of girls on that team. I can’t wait to see how the result will end up.”