AUBURN — It was midterms week at Leavitt Area High School this week, so the Leavitt Hornets had only one practice scheduled to prepare for their big rematch with Lewiston. And even that session was truncated due to a scheduling mix-up.

It may have been just what the Hornets needed, because they couldn’t dwell on the 8-0 defeat the Blue Devils handed them last month. It certainly turned out for the best, as Leavitt jumped out to an early lead and pulled out a 3-2 victory at Ingersoll Arena Saturday night.

Freshman center Kara Violette potted the winning gaol with 5:51 remaining to give the Hornets a big boost in their pursuit of the Devils for the top spot in the East.

“The score (in the first game) didn’t reflect. This has been a five-year process for us, coming to this point,” Leavitt coach Christine Vincent said. “The girls have been working hard to beat Lewiston every year that we’ve been a team, so it’s been a long time in the making.”

“For the seniors, this was huge, because out of all of the years that they’ve been playing, I don’t think they’ve beaten Lewiston once,” said Violette, who scored two of Leavitt’s three goals. “It was pretty huge.”

Violette came up huge after Lewiston rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie it on Emilie Cloutier’s end-to-end goal 6:33 into the third. Violette collected the puck in her own end, streaked down the left side, deked a defender outside near the top of the left circle, then turned right to fire a back-hander past Lewiston goalie Sarah Turner (12 saves).

“I went to my backhand because I know I’m pretty strong on my backhand, and it went in,” Violette said.

Lewiston (12-2-2) outshot Leavitt, 24-15, but the Hornets (10-2-1) set the tone early by rushing the net on their first possession. Kayla Royer rebounded a Violette shot to Turner’s right and flipped it into a nearly-open net to put the Hornets up a goal just 58 seconds into the contest.

“I think that was critical, because the last time we played them, the girls couldn’t get their heads into the game and that cost us the game,” Vincent said. “Scoring first, I think, is what got their minds to thinking ‘Yes, we can do this.'”

The early lead seemed to relax Stanley (22 saves), who made several outstanding saves to protect the lead. She victimized Marisa Zamrock several times, including on a 2-on-1 in front of the net, then with a pad save and lunging to smother the rebound on a slapshot.

“I’m always extremely nervous before every game, but I have a lot of faith in my team,” Stanley said. “As soon as we got out there and everybody was pumped up, I knew that we could do it.”

Violette found a seam in the slot and fired a wrister past Turner to make it 2-0 at 6:15 of the second. Zamrock finally broke through with a backhander after the Hornets turned the puck over in front of their own net to cut Leavitt’s lead in half at 12:54.

“We were losing some battles that we shouldn’t have been, but you’ve got to give Leavitt credit,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “Violette’s a very good player, and she really makes a difference to that team, but I’ve got to give the rest of the Leavitt team credit, too. I was telling my girls that there are some girls on that team that may not have the same skill, but they battle.”

Vincent wasn’t sure if her team would be fully prepared for battle after their week off.

“Our only practice was (Friday) night,” she said. “We got to the rink and they messed up the schedule so we had to wait for a game to finish, then they let us go on the ice for a half an hour, so I was a little nervous thinking are we really ready? All we worked on was our passing game and positioning, and it paid off.”

They won’t be getting much more practice time during the regular season. Saturday’s game was the start of a stretch of six games in seven days to close out the season, but the Hornets can’t ask for more momentum going into that arduous slate.

“We always come into Lewiston games really nervous,” Stanley said. “But coming out of it like this, I think when we go to the playoffs, it’s going to be an awesome confidence-booster.”

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