LEWISTON – The last time Mason St. Hilaire played at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, the then-sophomore carted the Class A state championship trophy off the ice with his Cheverus teammates after a win over Lewiston.

His return engagement Friday was nearly as sweet.

St. Hilaire made his first regular-season start for Cheverus since 2005 and stopped 25 shots to earn the victory as the Stags toughed out a 3-1 win over the Blue Devils in the teams’ season-opener.

“A lot of people don’t think we’ll do that well,” said St. Hilaire, “but we still have a couple of players we’ll be able to do well with. We had a couple of bad preseason games, but we came back well to win this one.”

St. Hilaire, who played at Cheverus as a freshman, spent the last two seasons playing for the Portland Junior Pirates. He returned to Cheverus for his senior season, and, apparently, just in time.

“With Mason back there, the kids can relax a bit,” said Cheverus coach Jack Lowry. “That results in a lot more happening for everyone else. Our goaltending this year will take us as far as we can go.”

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, dropped their second consecutive game of the Holiday Plus/Minus Tournament, though the first – a 4-3 loss to St. Dom’s on Thursday– didn’t count in the standings.

“It’s hard, especially for a young team, to get up for a rivalry game one night, and come back the next night and play hard,” said Lewiston coach Norm Gagne.

“That’s something a more experienced team would deal with better.”

After looking tough and fast against the Saints, Lewiston had trouble getting out of its own way Friday.

“We couldn’t handle the puck,” said Gagne. “There was nobody on us and we just couldn’t find the handle. When we did have opportunities down low, we’d always lose the handle on the puck.”

Cheverus capitalized on a couple of those turnovers in the opening frame, getting a pair of goals from Kyle Welch to take a 2-0 lead into the first break.

Welch’s first came on a perfect feed from Brian McDonough behind the net. He waited to see Blue Devil netminder Zack Plourd make the first move and tucked the puck 5-hole.

His second came on a rebound that Plourd thought he’d covered.

“It’s great with the new rules now,” said Welch. “You’re used to charging the net and getting slashed and hooked, but they can’t do that anymore, so you can shoot and go after your rebounds more. That’s what I did there.”

In the second, the Blue Devils enjoyed five power plays -including two two-man advantages – and came out further behind than before.

Nate Parker misplayed the puck at the left point with Lewiston on a 4-on-3.

Cheverus forward Geno DiMillo poked the puck up the boards, bore down on Plourd and snuck it by on the low blocker side to put the Stags ahead by three.

The Blue Devils managed a power play goal on another 5-on-3 in the third, but ran into penalty trouble late, killing their momentum

Lewiston finished the game going 1-for-10 on the power play. Cheverus was 0-for-7.

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