LEWISTON — The smaller deficit was ultimately the hardest for the Lewiston Maineiacs to overcome.
On a night that featured wacky bounces, a missed 3-on-0, an ailing goaltender, a birthday hat trick and 13 goals — none of which came on the power play — the Maineiacs, after erasing three- and two-goal deficits, fell one goal short of earning at least one point and inching closer to a berth in the playoffs, falling to Drummondville in their penultimate contest at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, 7-6.
“It’s not funny, because we lost,” Maineiacs’ coach J.F. Houle said, “But it was bizarre. There were a lot of goals, with the goalie being sick, it was just a weird game. I thought the guys showed a lot of character tonight, coming back from being down.”
Five of Lewiston’s six goals came in the final four minutes of each period, and the other came early in the second.
“That was a good offensive team, and we knew that coming in that they are scoring a lot of goals,” Drummondville coach Mario Duhamel said.
Lewiston has scored 48 goals in 10 games, nearly five per game, but is just 4-6 in that span.
“We’ve been doing some good things offensively,” Houle said. “But on defense, we still need work.”
Etienne Brodeur, celebrating his 19th birthday Wednesday, rang up three goals in the first two periods to key the Maineiacs’ offensive explosion.
The madness began early. Odd deflections, bad bounces and a sick goaltender highlighted a wacky first period that saw the Maineiacs fall behind 3-2.
Charles Landry netted the game’s first goal for Drummondville at 5:53 on the team’s first shot on goal, a deflected pass from the right corner that hit a defender in front and found its way through Lewiston goalie Jordan Kennedy. Ondrej Palat added another for the Volts at 9:06, this one on a funky hop that hit a shoulder in front, bounced high into the air, over Kennedy’s right shoulder, off the left post and into the cage.
The Voltigeurs added another on a nice deke move in front by Alexandre Comtois to seemingly put Drummondville in control.
But Drummondville starter Jake Allen, Team Canada’s starting keeper at the World Junior Championship, was sick, throwing his mask and gloves off during play to get the officials’ attention after facing only three shots.
With his replacement, Frederic Piche, in net, Lewiston started to build some momentum. Brodeur collected a deflected pass and fired it past Piche at 18:04, and Ian Saab registered his first career goal on a turnaround wrister from the left point to pull the Maineiacs to within one at 3-2.
More scoring ensued in the second. This time, the Maineiacs, on another pair of goals from Brodeur and a finish by Matthew Bissonette, netted three, while the Volts added two more.
Brodeur capped a 2-on-0 to being the period to even things up at 3-3. Chris DiDomenico and Marc-Antoine Desnoyers returned the Drummondville lead to two in the first half of the frame, but Bissonetted capped a 3-on-2 rush at 16:31 and Brodeur sent hats flying at 17:18 on a rare breakaway finish to knot things back up at 5-5.
In the third period, Drummondville again went ahead at 6:18 on a Sean Couturier tally, his 39th of the season, as he finished a 2-on-1 with Gabriel Dumont. Dumont then netted his 48th of the year at 12:29 to put the Volts ahead by two — again.
Cameron Critchlow made things interesting late, deking past Piche with 1:51 to play, but Lewiston never got a chance to establish an offensive zone presence with Kennedy on the bench at the end of the game.
The bad news for Lewiston on Wednesday in the playoff chase was a Baie-Comeau victory, pulling the Drakkar within two points of Lewiston with two games to play. The Maineiacs hold the tiebreak advantage, but need either to earn two points, watch Baie-Comeau lose two points, or any combination of the two. Baie-Comeau finishes with Quebec and Chicoutimi, while Lewiston faces Victoriaville in its final home game of the season Friday, and Drummondville again Sunday.
NOTE: Honors keep rolling in for the Edward Little High School boys’ basketball team. The two-time defending KVAC and Eastern Class A champions were honored Wednesday before the Lewiston Maineiacs penultimate home game at the Colisee. The Maineiacs announced each member of the team and its coaches, and senior Yusef Iman, surrounded by the squad, dropped the ceremonial first puck beween Maineiacs’ captain Billy Lacasse and Drummondville captain Marc-Olivier Vachon.