Panthers tick off Devils

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LEWISTON — It’s hard to say that one second of one high school hockey game in early January can define a team’s entire season.

In Lewiston High School’s case, the final tick of regulation time on Wednesday spoke volumes.

With five seconds left, a Lewiston defender attempted to clear the puck up the boards to protect the team’s one-goal lead. Waterville defenseman Ian Rowe snagged the puck out of the air, placed it at his feet and drilled a desperation shot toward the net.

The puck popped out to the top of the crease, right in front of senior defenseman John Cushing, who swatted at it.

“I didn’t even know how much time was left,” Cushing said. “I just knew that I hadn’t heard the buzzer.”

The puck crossed the line with 9-10ths of a second to play in regulation, forcing overtime.

There, John Massey played the hero’s role, swatting a puck sent in from the point in similar fashion past Lewiston sophomore netminder Dylan LaBonte to lift the Panthers to a thrilling 4-3 win over the Blue Devils.

“We have a young team, and we made young mistakes,” Lewiston coach Norm Gagne said. “If they had realized we only had about six seconds left, they probably wouldn’t have tried to bang it up the boards like that into traffic.”

The defeat is Lewiston’s sixth in eight games this season, which also included a 3-2 overtime loss to Scarborough, one of the state’s top teams this season.

“It’s going to take time, and I think we played a good game overall,” Gagne said.

One of Lewiston’s veterans, junior Jordan Bourgoin, nearly won the game for in overtime. Playing shorthanded for the ninth time in the game, Lewiston sprung Bourgoin on a breakaway. The shifty forward faked Waterville netminder Noah MacDonnell to the ice and had an open net at which to shoot, but MacDonnell reached his glove hand up and snagged Bourgoin’s backhand out of the air at the last moment.

“That was 50-50 skill and luck, I think,” MacDonnell said. “He had me down to the ice. I was following him and he got me down, but I just reached back out.”

“That was the game,” Gagne said.

Sixty-three second later, Massey potted his game-winner.

“I don’t really know what happened before the puck got to me,” Massey said. “I whacked at the puck and it went right through the goalie, I think.”

Casey Poussard put the Blue Devils ahead 5:56 into the game on a rebound after a Tim Gilbert shot from the point handcuffed MacDonnell.

The Panthers evened the score at 3:57 of the second on the power play. Harry Pollard slammed home a rebound in front of sophomore keeper Dylan LaBonte on a John Cushing shot from the high slot.

Matt Letourneau scored on a carbon-copy of the Devils’ first goal at 8:17 to put Lewiston back in front, and Bourgoin potted his lone goal at 13:41 on a Poussard rebound to MacDonnell’s right.

jpelleitier@sunjournal.com

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