LEWISTON – When Brunswick coach Mike Routhier looks in a mirror, it’s hard for him to find any hint of Lewiston Blue Devil blue amid the Dragons’ colors of orange and black.

Routhier was once a goaltender for the Blue Devils, backstopping the team in the late 1980s. Tonight at the Cumberland County Civic Center, he will stand behind the bench and try to do something no one else has ever done: Lead Brunswick to an Eastern Maine Class A title.

And he’ll have to do it against Lewiston.

“It’s there a little bit,” admitted Routhier. “Someone asked me the other night, and I told them that the novelty of coaching against Lewiston has worn off for the most part, but we’ve still never defeated them in the playoffs, so that, more than anything, I’ll think about.”

In that same mirror, Routhier also sees in his own team a direct reflection of his opponent.

“We both have three pretty good lines,” said Routhier. “We both have depth on defense, and down the stretch, the goalies have played well on both sides.”

Lewiston coach Norm Gagne, who last won a state title in 2001 as the head coach of the Waterville Purple Panthers, is equally impressed.

“It’s a mirror image, there’s no question,” said Gagne. “It’s been up for grabs all year, and I think it shows when you have No. 3 and No. 4 playing for the Eastern Maine championship.”

The difference, then, may lie in special teams, something both squads have excelled in this season.

Brunswick, with assistant coach and former Edward Little bench boss Dave Boucher running the power play, has been lethal with an extra attacker. On the penalty kill, the numbers are even better.

In more than 30 games, including exhibitions, the Dragons have allowed just 12 goals while down a skater, and have a kill ratio of 91 percent.

“That’s really been a force for us this year,” said Routhier. “And we think 5-on-5 we have some pretty good scoring, too.”

Lewiston has admittedly struggled on the power play.

“We’ve been making poor choices on our power play,” said Gagne. “Especially on our breakout. We (were) hoping to make a few changes in that area (Monday night) and try to make some better decisions.”

The Blue Devils’ penalty-kill unit has been as solid as Brunswick’s, though, using an aggressive style that hurries most teams into bad decisions.

The other major factor will be goaltending.

Brian Nason, a senior, has been the Blue Devils’ go-to guy all season. Last week, after Bangor lost to Lewiston in overtime, Bangor coach Ted Taylor called him unequivocally the “best goaltender in the state, no question.”

“He has really picked up his game,” said Gagne. “He’s been our man from Day 1, and I think it’s hard sometimes to push yourself in that situation, but right now he’s really pushing himself.”

On the other end, the Dragons will wait until the last minute to declare a starting netminder. Senior Dennis Estes played much of the season, and won several big games, but in the team’s last three games, sophomore Matt Pellerin has taken over and performed well. He won all three starts, including his first two career playoff appearances.

“He gave up a fluky goal early in the last game,” said Routhier, “but after that he settled down quite a bit. We’re going to see how both of them do in practice (Monday), see how they respond, and go from there.”

“It’s going to be a close game, it’s going to be an exciting game,” said Gagne. “Hopefully the best team will win, and I hope the best team will be wearing blue.”

The teams square off in the first of two regional finals at the Cumberland County Civic Center tonight at 6 p.m. No. 1 Cheverus will face No. 2 Scarborough for the Western Class A crown 15 minutes following the completion of the Lewiston-Brunswick game.


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