LEWISTON — Donne Larrivee looked up and saw nothing between him and Lewiston netminder Cam Poussard but a sheet of ice.
And the St. Dom’s defender did what any solid, stay-at-home defender would have done.
“I looked around for someone with me, and there wasn’t anyone there, so I tried to do something myself,” Larrivee said, cracking a smile. “That didn’t work so well.”
He lost the puck and barely got a shot away.
Larrivee can laugh now, because the play ultimately didn’t matter. He and the rest of the Saints’ defenders helped shut out the Blue Devils, 2-0, to advance to Tuesday’s Eastern Class A regional final.
“I’m more of a stay-at-home type,” Larrivee said. “And that’s fine. We all have our roles.”
Larrivee is also one of five seniors on the Saints’ roster — three skaters and two goaltenders.
“It’s easy to look ahead when you have this group of kids,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “But these five seniors have been a big part of why we’re here. The three guys who play out, Cam (Brown) is a four-year player, Trevar (Haefele) and Donne are both in their third year of varsity experience, so they’ve been through it for a while.”
All five seniors, at one time or another this season, contributed to the Saints’ defensive philosophy. Larrivee, who began playing defense as a sophomore, is the most seasoned. Brown started playing some defense last summer, when Ouellette realized he needed some stability there, and Haefele started spelling Brown here and there to help the Saints add some offensive punch.
And then there are the keepers, Josh Charest and Shayne Curtis, who each played in nine games during the regular season and one more each in the playoffs. They each have a 6-4 record.
“It took a little bit to get comfortable with the change,” Haefele said, “But after a game or two, it started feeling good. Playing with Donne helped, him being a seasoned defenseman. I was fine with it, I was just ready to do what the team needed me to do.”
That attitude is one of the reasons this senior class is so important to this team.
“This year’s senior class is different than last year’s, and that’s not a bad thing or a good thing, they’re just different, with different roles,” Ouellette said. “They’re important players no matter where they play.”
Or when, in the goalies’ case. Charest played in the Saints’ first playoff game, a 12-3 rout of Edward Little, while Curtis earned the shutout win over Lewiston with a 30-save performance.
“As seniors, we’re always thinking that this might be our last game, especially in a game like Saturday’s,” Curtis said. “A lot of us played with a sense of urgency, even in practice all week.”
“We split time all year, backed each other up, supported each other,” Charest added. “It’s been great.”
It was Curtis who faced Waterville in last year’s Class A state final, and because of that, coupled with the fact that, win or lose, this year’s final game will be his own go-around in high school hockey, he has tried to help the rest of the senior class impart that same sense of urgency on the younger players in the locker room.
“You always want to look back after this and say you gave it your best shot,” Haefele said. “Even the younger guys, who knows if they’re going to have another chance like this? You just don’t.”
Brown played a bit more offense Saturday than he had for most of the season. None of the team’s seniors are among the top six on the squad in scoring. Haefele, with 10 points, is seventh, and Brown, with nine, is eighth.
“It was a tough transition to make, because I’ll find myself rushing it when I need to stay back sometimes,” Brown said. “But that’s where I needed to play.”
With a rematch against defending Class A champion Waterville looming, this time one round earlier, Ouellette is confident that his team, led by this group of five, is ready to go.
“Ultimately, it’s not who gets more games, who plays where, it’s not who sees more pucks, it’s where the team finished in the end,” Ouellette said.