LEWISTON — After a quick poke check, a little hustle and a little good fortune, Parker Sanderson found himself with the puck and an open net.
In overtime and with the Eastern A semifinal on the line Saturday, the Bangor senior was thinking just one thing — don't miss.
"I had to bury it," Sanderson said. "I wanted to shoot it as hard as I could. I wanted to make sure I put it in."
Sanderson didn't miss.
After suffering disappointing playoff losses to St. Dom's in the past, he delivered the knockout blow, helping lift Bangor to a 3-2 win over the Saints with 2:42 left in the second overtime.
"This is the first year we've beaten St. Dom's in a while," Sanderson said. "They're the team that always seems to knock us out. Last year, they knocked us out in overtime."
With the game tied in the second overtime, the Saints were carrying the puck into the neutral zone. Sanderson was there on the forecheck and knocked the puck away.
"I skated as hard as I could to get it," Sanderson said. "With a 50-50 play between the goalie and I, he tried to poke it, and I just got there. I went to the forehand and finished it."
St. Dom's netminder Grant Carrier came out of the net, trying to beat Sanderson to the puck. Sanderson tipped it away from him, leaving him with an open net.
"Grant and I are the best of friends," Sanderson, who was surprised to see Carrier challenge him, said. "He made a hell of a play. I'd never seen him do something like that. He's usually a stay at home goalie. He played a hell of a game."
The game-winner came shortly after the Saints' Chase Hainey burst by two defenders for a scoring bid that Bangor goalie Rye Powell turned aside with 3:15 left in the second OT. Powell finished with 31 saves.
"It was a typical overtime game when you go down and one team has a great scoring chance and the goalie comes up big and then within a minute the other teams puts it in," St. Dom's coach Steve Ouellette said. "We had the breakaway opportunity and it seems like within a minute, they had their opportunity."
The Rams were down for much of the game, despite outshooting the Saints significantly. After the Saints took a 2-1 lead late in the third, the Rams answered just 50 seconds later.
"We were behind the whole game," Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. "It was a good response. I think we outplayed them the whole time."
In overtime, the Saints played some of their best hockey and produced a number of great opportunities.
Hainey had a pair of bids in front. Kyle Holtet had a try at the rebound that Powell got a piece of. Bangor's best try came when Cam Dickson split the defenders for a rush, but put the puck over the net.
"We dominated pretty well in overtime even with the shorter bench," Ouellette said. "I thought we had the better chances."
Bangor outshot St. Dom's to start, 6-1, but couldn't put one by Carrier. The Saints' best early chance came on a point-blank bid from the slot by Hainey with 4:30 left.
Moments later, the Saints got the first power play of the game after a heavy hit by Sanderson on Brad Berube. St. Dom's made the best of it with 1:51 left in the period. Tyler Pratt had a shot from the right side. It was stopped by Powell but Caleb Labrie was right there at the left post to put back the rebound.
"I felt if we could get that two-goal lead, we could take some command," Ouellette said. "Having the lead in the first period was nice. It gave us some confidence."
Bangor dominated the Saints in the second period, outshooting St. Dom's 14-4. The Rams just couldn't net a goal to tie the game.
Bangor had a power play early in the second. Zach Papsadora had a chance at a rebound at the left post but put it wide. Then a Jordan Tracy tip slid barely wide of the right post. Later in the period, Papsadora had an open wrister from the right circle that was saved by Carrier.
St. Dom's opened the third on the power play and had a nice Cam Stewart bid that was squeezed by Powell.
Then Bangor tied the game at 1:31 of the third. Sanderson knocked down a puck at the Bangor blue line. He skated the puck the other way and had Zeb Tuell on a 2-on-1 rush with him. He sent a pass from the left side to the front. Tuell didn't have a clean shot off the pass but turned himself and bury into with Carrier out of position.
"We don't put our heads down," Sanderson said. "We just keep on going. We were outshooting them at that point. It's hard to put into words how hard we worked to come back."
The Saints got more pressure going late in the third. Matt Chasse had a nice blast from the point that Powell saved. The Bangor netminder also made a spectacular glove save when Berube cut to the front of the net with just over three minutes left.
The Saints took the lead with 2:25 on a Holtet wrister from the left side after beating a defender. Bangor answered that just 50 seconds later. Kyle Farley's shot from the point snuck through traffic in front for the equalizer with 1:35 left.
"We knew we had to put bodies in front because he's one of the best goalies in the state," Paradis said.