LEWISTON — There were 20 minutes and 12 seconds to play, but the game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
After battling through nearly two full periods with Drummondville, the Lewiston Maineiacs had them even at a goal apiece. But, as has been the pattern so far in these playoffs, the Voltigeurs displayed precise timing when it mattered most. Gabriel Dumont netted his fourth goal of the playoffs with 12 seconds to play in the middle frame to springboard his team to a 5-1 victory over the Maineiacs in Game 3 of the teams’ QMJHL first-round playoff series at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“All series this team has been battling hard,” Drummondville coach Mario Duhamel said. “The scores may show one thing, but it hasn’t been easy for us, and tonight was the same.”
“I felt that second period was the best period we’ve played in the last four games against Drummondville,” Maineiacs coach J.F. Houle said. “We generated some chances. (Goalie Jake Allen) made some big saves, and there’s just no margin for error when you play Drummondville. We made two or three mistakes the whole third period, and they all ended up in the back of our net.”
Those three goals in the third were costly, but both coaches pointed to the goal at the end of the second — Dumont’s backbreaker — as the turning point.
“Any goal at the end of a period … will always hurt you,” Houle said. “I wasn’t very happy with that one. We held them to six shots in the second period, and they got two goals.”
I thought we got away from our game in the second,” Duhamel said. “We were playing too much East-West, trying to be fancy, and they came up with a lot of good chances against us. Getting that goal at the end helped us get the momentum back for the third.”
Not mentioned much in this series until Tuesday, Allen had his busiest night of the playoffs to date, turning aside 27 of 28 to secure the win. Many of the shots he faced tested him.
“We know we have a good goalie, and tonight had the chance to show what he can do,” Duhamel said.
Lewiston keeper Adrien Lemay held down the fort in the first against three Drummondville power plays, and against three odd-man rushes on which he was spectacular. No saves were better than his glove save against Dumont at 9:50 of the opening frame. The Volts poked the puck through center and defenseman Marc-Antoine Desnoyers jumped up into the play to create a 2-on-1 with Dumont. The defenseman slid a pass through the feet of the Maineiacs’ defender and onto the tape of Dumont’s stick.
The league’s leading scorer launched a wrister toward the top corner of the cage, and Lemay slid from right to left and flung his glove into the air, tipping the puck high into the air and out of harm’s way.
On the other end, Allen made a couple of big stops of his own, including a right pad stop on a Billy Lacasse shorthanded breakaway.
The all-world goalie was a bit busier in the second, as Lewiston found its legs. Both teams found a scoring touch, too.
Benoit Levesque made it 1-0 when he picked the puck off on the goal line after Lemay made a poke check to intercept a pass to the front of the net. Levesque buried it high blocker to put the visitors on top at 5:21 of the second.
Zachary Evans-Renaud blasted a slap shot from the right point on a feed across from fellow rookie blueliner Ian Saab at 15:52 of the second to knot the score at one. Billy Lacasse won the faceoff to Jess Tanguy, who slid the puck back to Saab to set the play in motion. Renaud’s shot sailed over Allen’s glove-hand shoulder.
Dumont netted his fourth goal of the series with just 12 seconds to play in the middle frame to again put Drummondville on top by a goal. A dump-in found Lemay’s pads in front to his left. The puck settled at the top of the crease, where Chris DiDomenico backhanded it across to the left side, where Dumont was waiting in front of the open cage.
Drummondville extended its lead to 3-1 at the two-minute mark of the third period when Jonathan Brunelle beat Lemay five-hole on a one-timer on a feed from Alexandre Comtois.
On goals from Jonathan Brunelle, Andrew Randazzo and captain Marc-Andre Vachon, Drummondville ran away with the game in the third.
In an effort to draw more people to Game 4 on Wednesday after drawing just 808 to Game 3, the Maineiacs announced Tuesday that all children ages 2-12 and all students with valid identification will receive free student or children’s ticket(s) with the purchase of one adult ticket.
Game 4 is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Wednesday at the Colisee.