LEWISTON — With one last chance to prove its progression this season, St. Dom’s didn’t disappoint.
Coming off a stunning upset of area rival Leavitt/Edward Little earlier in the week, the Saints gave the playoff-bound Lewiston Blue Devils all they could handle in the teams’ season finale.
Ultimately, Lewiston’s feisty freshman class and its handful of veterans had the final say, though, posting a 3-1 victory over St. Dom’s at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“We knew where it all stood, and it was a Lewiston/St. Dom’s game,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “We knew what to expect.”
The first meeting of the traditional rivals ended in a lopsided, five-goal Lewiston win. Saturday’s finale was anything but lopsided.
“The girls have definitely improved a lot this season,” St. Dom’s coach Don Boucher said. “They played a hell of a game, and we were in it right to the end.”
Freshman Erica Lemieux was again a linchpin for the Blue Devils, collecting a goal and an assist in the victory. Her shorthanded tally in the second period proved to be the game-winner.
“She was hurting (after a first-period hit),” Dumont said, “but she came back and wanted to play. It was a back issue, the trainer looked at her and she said she was ready to go. She’s just a good player.”
Faced with a two-goal deficit to begin the third frame, the Saints quickly made it a one-goal game. Kayle McLellan, a force all night, went strong to the front of the cage. There, her sister, Kelley, and Meaghan Hargreaves pounded at the puck. Hargreaves got the last touch to pop it past goalie Paige Fontaine.
“You could kind of see things unraveling,” Dumont said. “That shift was an awful shift, and we knew we were in trouble.”
“(Kayla McLellan) had a phenomenal game today, every time she touched the puck something happened,” Boucher said. “The girls were excited after that one. They all knew we were right in the game.”
The Devils responded quickly. Sadie Poulin capitalized on a funny bounce and redirected the puck past senior keeper Nicole Keaney to reestablish Lewiston’s two-goal advantage. Despite that goal, Keaney had a solid night for the Saints, stopping 39 of the 42 she saw.
“That’s probably the best game she’s played her entire high school career,” Boucher said. “She played phenomenal. Lewiston outshot us, but she came up big, and the girls came up big blocking the front of the net.”
Sam Cote got credit for the first Lewiston goal, though there were three or four legs and sticks off of which the puck could have bounced to make it cross the goal line.
In the first bout of sustained pressure for the Blue Devils, all five players on the ice touched the puck in a passing sequence. Lemieux capped the play after receiving a return pass from Erin Hubbard at the point. Lemieux, at the top of the left circle, wheeled and fired the puck toward the far post, where Cote was waiting, surrounded by a pair of defenders and another teammate.
“That’s what you’re looking for,” Dumont said. “They moved it all around, and they all made good decisions. It shows what we’re capable of. We’re not continuously doing it, but that’s what you work to.”
In the second period, Lemieux was in the right place at the right time to give her squad a cushion. She picked off a D-to-D pass in the low slot as she was killing a penalty and backhanded the rolling puck past a stunned Keaney for a 2-0 lead.