LEWISTON — Ryan Lemelin barely managed to put a second hand on his stick as he swung at the puck at his feet. 

“It was right below me, I was just trying to get it toward the net,” Lemelin said. “It was more like a change-up.”

The change in speed was enough to fool Thornton Academy goaltender Rick Hebb. The puck fluttered past the senior keeper and into the cage behind him with 1:54 to play in the third period and Ben Wigant cappped a four-goal night with an empty-net goal at 14:29 to lift Lewiston to an important 5-3 win over the Trojans at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday,

“We knew coming in here that this would be a big win for us,” Wigant said. “People have been talking all season about how the West is better than the East, and we came out and said, ‘You know what? Let’s prove that the East has some stuff.'”

The Blue Devils began the third period trailing the Trojans by a pair at 3-1. Wigant cut the lead in half with a wrap-around that finished with him flat on his stomach, but with the puck in the back of the net.

“(Hebb) came out to play it and I beat him to it,” Wigant said, “and I saw how far out he was and knew I could beat him back around to the other side.”

Lewiston netminder Cam Poussard made the save of the game just 35 seconds later when he robbed Jonathan Pate from six feet with a diving glove save.

“We know he can steal a game for us, and we know when we’re down, he helps us out,” Lemelin said.

“We’d talked between periods, he felt bad about (Thornton’s) third goal,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “He felt he had a chance to put his glove on it and he didn’t, so we talked about him covering up the puck when he could. But he felt he kind of owed the team, and that’s what he came up with.”

Lewiston held a 10-2 advantage in shots in the final frame, and Wigant netted his third at the 9:46 mark when he stole the puck at the right half wall and advanced to the low right circle with the puck.

“He was giving me short side,” Wigant said. “I was worried he might be baiting me or something, but it was open, so I shot it there.”

Lemelin’s floater put the Devils on top, and Wigant capped the night with an empty-netter after a clear to center set him up alone as Hebb had just reached the Thornton bench.

“That was a big game for both teams,” Thornton coach Shawn Rousseau said. “The timing of the game, where we are in the standings. Lewiston’s at the top of the East, and we believe we’re among the top in the West. It was big in a lot of ways.”

Lewiston controlled play territorially for much of the opening frame, but it was Thornton that did the damage where is mattered, sneaking two of five shots by Poussard to claim a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

Bryan Dallaire netted the game’s first goal at the eight-minute mark on a wrister from the high slot. Pate added to it at 12:56 on a crazy deflection. A shots came from the left point, kicked to the right side of the cage off a skate and right to Pate, who hammered it home for a 2-0 lead.

“We’ve been talking more about getting out to a faster start,” Wigant said. “We still didn’t get that done, but we came back hard.”

The Devils got one back at 4:09 of the second period when Wigant broke in alone on a shorthanded break and roofed the puck short side over Hebb’s blocker to pull his squad within one.

That lasted all of 3:04. Brett Levasseur reestablished the Trojans’ two-goal advantage on a nifty backhander on a Lewiston turnover, lofting the puck over Poussard’s blocker from in tight.

Ben Wigant of Lewiston High School beats Thornton Academy goaltender Rick Hebb and defenseman Brandon Veilleux during a third period wrap-around in Lewiston on Friday. Wigant scored four goals during the Devil’s 5-3 win.

Lewiston High School goaltender Cam Poussard reaches to stop a shot by Thornton Academy during the second period in Lewiston on Friday.

Thornton Academy goaltender Rick Hebb stops a shot by Desmond Gagne of Lewiston High School during the third period in Lewiston on Friday.

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