HALLOWELL – And the Edward Little High School hockey team thought an unsightly rout at the hands of its city rival felt lousy.

Twenty-four hours later, the Red Eddies were dealt a defeat that was all at once completely different, eerily similar and even more painful.

EL coughed up a three-goal lead Wednesday night and watched Cony’s Justin Genest score a natural hat trick in the third period to swipe a pivotal 6-4 victory at Kennebec Ice Arena.

Both teams are now 7-6-1 in a bizarre Eastern Class A race that finds virtually every playoff contender except No. 1 Brunswick within two games of .500.

“We talked all season about needing a win against one of the teams ranked ahead of us,” said Cony coach Chad Foye, “and tonight we got one.”

It was a wasted chance for the Red Eddies to clear the cobwebs after Tuesday’s bizarre 15-3 loss to St. Dom’s. Instead, their late-season slide continued in a fashion that made Cony look like the protagonist in a sugary-scripted sports movie.

All three Genest goals gained life when the Rams pounced on perilous passes in the EL defensive zone.

Genest, a junior sniper on a senior-heavy Cony squad, also assisted Ben Hubert’s goal to make the first dent in a 3-0 EL lead at 8:20 of the second period.

“We just started working together and playing a little better,” Foye said. “They’re a good team. It’s so close among the top eight that the team that wins (Eastern Maine) is going to be the team that can generate a little momentum here and carry it into the playoffs.”

Corey LaRue registered two goals and two assists for Edward Little, whose players and coaches held a lengthy, closed-door meeting after the game and were unavailable for comment at press time.

EL dominated for a scintillating spell. Derek Racine and LaRue scored goals in a seven-second span early in the second period. Craig Michaud lit the lamp less than five minutes later to put the Red Eddies in apparent command.

Adam Loudermilk made 18 saves through the first two periods for EL and 24 overall.

The Red Eddies took maximum advantage of two mental lapses by Cony.

J.P. Carey was whistled for roughing after the first-period horn, when he nudged Loudermilk out of frustration at the end of a failed breakaway.

Racine exacted his toll at 1:11 of the second period, rifling a would-be pass through the slot that deflected off a Cony defender and skipped past Rams goaltender Nick Claudel (23 saves).

Then EL doubled the damage, winning the ensuing faceoff and sending LaRue on an unmarked rush down the right wing. He made it 2-0 at 1:18, courtesy of Billy Brewster and Zach Ward.

Michaud punctuated a pretty 3-on-2 for the third strike at 5:44. It also came on the power play, with LaRue and Brewster setting the table.

Even after Genest’s heroics, the Red Eddies fed their flickering hopes. Carey made it five unanswered Cony goals at 3:39 of the third before LaRue answered with his fourth point of the night to make it 5-4 with 5:35 left.

Given another man advantage, Spenser Perkins put it away with help from Genest and Eric Bineau at 12:31.

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