LEWISTON – It was just the kind of moment Norm Gagne hoped he would not see.

The Lewiston High School hockey coach knows full well that hockey games can sometimes come down to a few brief moments and how a young team reacts to them. Saturday night, it was a span of 18 seconds that helped derail his Blue Devils state title hopes.

Biddeford roared from behind in the second period in a 4-2 win in the Class A state championship game. After a strong opening period and 1-0 lead, Lewiston watched that effort go to waste as the Tigers seized control in the second.

“That was my biggest fear,” said Gagne. “I call them pressure points, and they took advantage of the pressure points.”

With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, Lewiston watched Biddeford change the game completely with a pair of goals late in the period. The Tigers didn’t just turn the tide, they reversed it 180 degrees. Lewiston lost its discipline and composure and didn’t recover until well into the third period.

“That second period was the deciding factor in the game,” said Gagne. “Too many penalties and too many mistakes. In the third period, I told them that I still believed we could win the game, and I think we proved that.”

Lewiston got back on track and made a late surge, cutting the deficit to 4-2, but it was almost too little too late.

“I really believe if we played like we did in the first period for three periods, we would have won that game,” said Gagne.

Lewiston’s night began to unravel with 4:43 left in the second. With the game tied, Lewiston’s Tim Gilbert took a roughing penalty for hitting from behind. Not only did the Blue Devils lose Gilbert for 10 minutes, the Tigers went on the power play. It took just four seconds for Biddeford to take advantage. A win off the face-off set up a blast by Tyler Fleurent from the right circle.

“When we gave up that goal, it was a defensive mistake,” said Gagne. “We’re a young team. We got down on ourselves, and they came right back and got another one. That’s what good teams do.”

Lewiston was reeling, and the Tigers made it 3-1 just 14 seconds later. Blue Devil goaltender Dylan LaBonte made a sprawling save on Fleurent, but Jeremy Grebin deposited the rebound.

“Slowly and slowly, we could see they were getting frustrated,” said Fleurent. “We were just doing the little things right. We just settled down and played our game. We made easy passes and got it out and got it to the red line and got it deep.”

Gagne called time out after the second goal in hopes of getting his team refocused.

“I told them when you’re in a championship game, you’re going to face adversity,” he said. “I don’t care where it is. You’re going to face it, and you have to rise to the occasion. That was the big thing for us, and we needed to do that.”

Lewiston couldn’t maintain its strong play from the first period. After skating well and beating Biddeford to the puck, the Blue Devils watched the Tigers pick up their intensity. Rather than building on its 1-0 lead after one, Lewiston watched Biddeford make the next move. It wasn’t until late in the third that Lewiston played with more intensity again. The Blue Devils skated better, made better passes and created sustained pressure.

“I’ve always said momentum likes hard work, and if you keep working hard, good things happen for you,” said Gagne. “When you stop working hard, bad things happen. We just got away from working hard.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.