SACO – It was only the first game of the regular season, but it felt more like a playoff game between the Lewiston Blue Devils and Scarborough Red Storm.
Cam Loiselle tallied a power-play goal in the third period to push the Red Storm past the Blue Devils, 2-1, in the season-opening game Saturday night for boys’ hockey at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco.
“This was a big win for us,” said Scarborough coach Norm Gagne, who is entering his 39th season coaching high school hockey in Maine. “With the start with games against Lewiston, St. Dom’s, Falmouth, York, we’ve got some tough games in a row, so it was important to get off to a good start.”
Loiselle’s go-ahead goal came at the 5:59 mark of the final period with Lewiston’s Joey Frechette sitting in the box for tripping. He fired a slap shot from the right point past Blue Devils’ goaltender Evan Bourassa.
“It was a good effort by both teams,” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau. “Both teams had a hard time generating offense unless it was on the power play. We didn’t make any mistakes on the man down. We were controlling (Scarborough) to the outside pretty well. They got it back to the high point, took the shot and it’s off the post and in the net.”
Despite the loss, Belleau found little fault with his team for the first game of the season.
“It was a great game,” said Belleau. “It definitely was like a playoff atmosphere, and that’s good because both teams can certainly build off that.”
The Blue Devils certainly had an opportunity to take the lead in the third period as they had a pair of power-play opportunities within the first three minutes of the period.
“Scarborough is a good team,” said Belleau. “We had our chances to win that game. If we could have buried a couple of those chances that we had, it would have been a different game.”
Billed as a potential Class A State final, it was a tight-checking, physical game that remained scoreless until late in the second period, when Scarborough struck first.
Garrett McDonald, who recorded an assist on the game-winning goal to finish the game with two points, finished off a three-on-two rush for the Red Storm. He snuck behind the Blue Devils’ defense, roofing a shot up over right shoulder of Bourassa with just 1:41 remaining in the second period to break the scoreless tie.
“It was a tight checking game and hard hitting game,” said Belleau. “It doesn’t get any better than that for the first game of the year — two teams that are trying to make a run at it at the end of the year.”
"There is a big bull's-eye on our players this year, and to come out and get off to a good start was big,” said Gagne, who spent three years as coach of the Blue Devils. “Lewiston is considered a perennial threat in the East, so this was big.”
With 29.5 seconds left in the period, Lewiston tied the game at 1 when Max Bolduc corralled a shot in the slot that deflected off Scarborough goaltender Dalton Finley. Bolduc slapped it back toward the net and it managed to find its way through several bodies, beating Finley between the legs.
Finley finished the game with 18 saves on 19 shots. Despite the loss Bourassa was equally up to the task, stopping 25 of 27 shots he faced.
Lewiston finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play. Scarborough went 1-for-3 with the man advantage.
NOTES: Scarborough’s Nick Bagley took a knee-on-knee hit five minutes into the third period and needed to be assisted off the ice by teammates. He would return with two minutes left in the game, but Gagne said he would be re-evaluated this week.