LEWISTON — It’s a split-second decision that Sam Carrier probably wants to have back.
The Lewiston defenseman, covering the right side of the ice in front of goaltender Adrien Lemay, battled along the boards with Drummondville sniper Gabriel Dumont. Dumont kept tight to the boards, while Carrier took an inward angle as they curled from behind the net, and Carrier then attacked Dumont as they got to the hash marks.
Dumont wasn’t expecting the contact, with his head facing the boards, and tumbled forward, laying motionless on the ice.
A skirmish ensued, but the damage was done.
Carrier was ejected, assessed a major penalty for checking from behind.
For four minutes, it appeared the Maineiacs would escape the late low. Ahead by a goal in the third period and fighting for its life, Lewiston tried to kill off another big penalty, like it had done so many times before in this playoff series.
But Drummondville’s power play finally found its footing.
Remi Blanchard blasted a slap shot from the point through traffic and beat Adrien Lemay to knot the score at two, and the Voltigeurs power up from there, adding three more on their way to a 5-2 win over the Maineiacs and a four-game series sweep of the teams’ first-round QMJHL playoff matchup.
“They’re a good team, and that’s what good teams do,” Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said. “They found a way to win tonight. Our penalty-killing has been pretty good throughout the series … but you take a five-minute (penalty) and it’s tough to defend. That was a turning point in the game.”
Lewiston’s season ends, for the second consecutive year, following a series sweep at the hands of Drumnondville. Last year, the Volts went on to win the President’s Cup.
This time around, though, Lewiston’s last stand against a team that had dominated it all season was much more intense, and much closer than the final scores indicated.
“I thought we battled hard all series,” Houle said. “We really played good hockey, and it’s encouraging to see that with all of the young guys on this team. It’s great for the future.”
Wednesday night, the Maineiacs managed to do something they hadn’t done since Nov. 13 — take a lead against Drummondville. That night, in a game that ended in a 6-3 Drummondville win, Lewiston led in the first period for all of 3:58. In Game 4 on Wednesday, Billy Lacasse gave the home squad a 1-0 lead that it held for the better part of the third period, and in the second, Oskar Orrpars netted his first goal since February 23 in his first game of the series to again put the Maineiacs ahead. That lead lasted 15 minutes and a few seconds.
“As comfortable in hockey as you can get, we were tonight,” defenseman Matt Boyle said. “With trusting ourselves, and our systemn, that was a big key. The saying, going out with a bang, we did that tonight.”
Drummondville lost its top defenseman, Marc-Antoine Desnoyers, in the first period to a high-sticking call. Officials ruled that infraction a five-minute major, and tossed him from the game. In the third, Lewiston fell victim to a similar call, this one to Carrier.
“Our penalty-killing this series has been great,” Boyle said. “We just let up that goal, and it did take a little bit of wind out of our sails, but I felt everybody battled hard tonight. Adrien (Lemay) stood on his head. He made some incredible saves.”
There was only so much the 20-year-old netminder could do, though. In the third period alone, he faced 23 shots, turning aside 19.
“I had a lot of shots tonight,” Lemay said. “We held our ground. That five-minutes really killed us. It’s part of hockey, I guess.”
After Lacasse made it 1-0 on an assist from his goaltender on the power play, Drummondville’s Sean Couturier knotted it at one with a tip-in, also on the power play.
Orrpars’ goal at 13:41 of the second frame put Lewiston back on top headed to the third, where both teams killed off a power play to begin the period.
Charles Landry followed Blanchard’s power-play strike with a goal to put Drummondville on top for good at 13:52. Gabriel Dumont added his fifth of the series at 15:21 to pad the lead, and Ondrej Palat added another power-play marker at 16:41 to cap the scoring.
The Maineiacs now move to the offseason, and Houle said Wednesday that process will be just as exciting.
“That’s why it was important for us to make the playoffs, these young kids are learning so much,” Houle said. “What it takes to win in the playoffs. Our young 92s and 93s, it’s going to be good for them for the future.”