LEWISTON — The Lewiston girls’ hockey team’s hopes for a second state title received two staggering blows in the opening period Saturday night.
The unbeaten Scarborough Red Storm put up two early goals, and seized control of the game.
The sudden deficit stunned Lewiston, but didn’t dissuade them. The Devils plugged away and scored a power play goal in the third, igniting a frantic comeback attempt that lasted until Scarborough added an empty-netter to finish off a 3-1 win at the Androscogging Bank Colisee.
“At 2-0, that could have turned messy really quick if these kids didn’t have heart,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “They were still coming. It was an easy scenario to get beat by seven or eight. We broke but didn’t break. We kept working and working.”
Lizzie Gross, a freshman, scored all three goals for the Red Storm (21-0). The first two set the tone early in the opening period.
“This is one of the funnest nights of my life,” Gross said. “That was so much fun. I’ve never played in a game that was that intense. I felt nervous at first, but then right after my first shift, my nerves went away and the excitement came over me.”
Devan Kane, a four-year starter for the Red Storm, finished with 20 saves, including some key stops in the first as Lewiston put ample pressure on Scarborough. Lewiston’s Paige Fontaine made 33 stops and kept her Blue Devils within striking distance for much of the game.
“We just kept battling,” Dumont said. “You never like to lose but if you have to lose that is the way you take it — with heart and still working. They hung in there every step of the way. I’m real proud of my kids.”
Lewiston had some great chances early. Faith Ide had a bid in the slot in the opening minutes. Then midway through the period, the Blue Devils created a number of scoring opportunities, but Kane made the stops.
“It was just a matter of finishing them,” Dumont said. “You have to give credit to their goalie. She proved she’s a top-notch goalie.”
Corinne Laberge had a quick shot that was saved. Allison Frechette had a bid in front and moments later had a backhand try that was stopped. Laberge had a breakaway attempt but her shot went over the net. Sam Cote had a tip in front.
“Lewiston’s a really strong team and a really competitive team,” Scarborough coach Caitlin Cashman said. “We have 12 underclassmen, nine of which are freshmen. So it’s really intimidating to walk into such a big game. I thought Lewiston really did a nice job trying to psych our girls out and capitalize on that. I think our defense did a nice job of just doing defense first.”
While the Blue Devils (15-5-1) couldn’t bury one, Scarborough’s Gross made it look easy. First, she skated by a pair of defenders and wristed it home at 4:09 of the first. Jenna Block had the assist.
“I got moving around our blue line and tried to go as fast as I could,” Gross said. “I was so excited for the game. I was going up the ice as fast as I could. I knew where to shoot it and shot it as hard as I could.”
Both Gross and Kristen Murray had bids later in the period. As nifty as the first goal was, Gross had an even finer goal with 2:10 left in the period. She roofed a backhander to the top of the net for the 2-0 lead. Samantha Shoebottom had the assist.
“I was coming up on my backhand and I was patient with it,” Gross said. “I put it top shelf.”
Lewiston had struggled to score in both games against the Red Storm during the regular season, losing 3-0 and 2-0.
“With a team like this, where you don’t get a lot of opportunities, 2-0 looks insurmountable,” said Dumont, whose team was playing in its first state game since 2010.
Lewiston had a pair of chances early in the second. Emily Turner had a partial break but Red Storm defender Lily Nygren chased her down and broke up the play. Then Erica Lemieux skated down the middle for a shot that Kane saved.
The rest of the period belonged to Scarborough. The Red Storm outshot Lewiston 13-5 and put an abundance of pressure on. Fontaine kept them off the board and the Blue Devils started to get a few other chances late in the period.
Lewiston trimmed the deficit with 9:04 left in the third on the power play. Laberge fired a shot from the point that got through a crowd. It appeared that Frechette tipped it in front but the goal was credited to Laberge. Erin Hubbard had the assist.
Lewiston kept the pressure on. Frechette had a chance in front with Kane down on the ice but the shot went wide. The Blue Devils’ pressure forced the Red Storm to call timeout with 6:17 left in the third. Off the next face-off Laberge had a one-timer that Kane saved.
“We took a timeout because once they got a goal, they had a lot of energy,” Cashman said. “We wanted to take that away from them and settle down and refocus.”
A late Red Storm penalty gave Lewiston life with 3:55 left. The Blue Devils didn’t get many chances but had a try with 50 seconds left by Frechette that Kane appeared to get a glove on at the right post. Lewiston pulled Fontaine for the extra attacker, but Scarborough got the empty-netter from Gross to seal the win.
“It took us five years to finish what we started,” said Cashman, whose team captain Riley McKeown took time to shake the hand of every member of the Lewiston team during the award ceremony. “It’s really nice to see.”