Drummondville didn’t waste any time Saturday putting Lewiston in an all-too-familiar position.
The Voltigeurs, the second overall seed in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, tickled the twine just 34 seconds into the game on a Gabriel Dumont goal and kept on rolling from there, dispatching the Maineiacs 5-1 in front of 2,434 at the Marcel Dionne Centre in Drummondville to take a 2-0 lead in the team’s first-round, best-of-seven playoff series.
“We started too slow, you can’t take even five minutes off against Drummondville,” Lewiston coach J.F. Houle said. “In the second and third, we played harder, we finished our hits, we played tough and we had chances, but it was too little, too late.”
Dumont, who netted 51 goals in 62 regular-season game, began the barrage before many in the crowd had even taken their seats, and put the Maineiacs on their heels early. Lewiston hasn’t held a lead in a game since it led Montreal 2-1 early in the second period on March 7, and the Maineiacs haven’t led in a game against Drummondville since the teams’ third meeting of the season back on Nov. 13. That lead only last about six minutes.
Lewiston last defeated Drummondville in a shootout back on Oct. 1.
The Maineiacs fought back — literally — in the second.
Matt Boyle, the Maineiacs’ veteran blueliner, took exception when he felt a couple of Voltigeurs skaters started taking runs at Lewiston skaters. He fought twice in the period, once each against Dumont and Philippe Bergeron.
“That was a good momentum-builder,” Houle said. “He wears a letter, and he showed some leadership, sticking up for his team like that. The rest of the team fed off of that.”
The fisticuffs appeared to inspire Lewiston, though the Maineiacs struggled mightily on four power play chances, including two chances with a 5-on-3. The Maineiacs held Drummondville to just six shots on goal in the middle frame while managing eight against keeper Jake Allen.
It was another slow start, though, from which Lewiston could not recover. After Dumont scored early, Sean Couturier added another exactly two minutes later, Jonathan Brunelle netted his first of the playoffs at 7:53 and Chris DiDomenico netted his second of the series with 44 seconds to play in the opening frame to put the Volts on top 4-0.
After a scoreless second, Lewiston started the third with the same kind of jump. The Maineiacs drew a penalty and finally capitalized on their eighth chance with an extra attacker as Stefan Fournier tipped a Sam Carrier shot past Allen.
But again, Drummondville responded in kind. Fifteen seconds after Fournier’s goal, Dumont buried his second of the night, tipping an Olivier Hotte shot past Adrien Lemay.
“I tried to stress that to the boys before the game, we just can’t be allowing goals right after we score,” Houle said. “That first shot after a goal is too important.”
Despite the score, Lewiston returns home for games 3 and 4 with plenty of positive thoughts after battling the Volts evenly in the final two periods Saturday.
“We do have a chance, we have a good team,” Houle said. “We have to figure out how to play hard against that team for a full 60 minutes, and if we can do that, we have a chance.”