LEWISTON — If there was ever any thought that the oldest and most storied hockey rivalry in Maine falling through the cracks, or becoming obsolete with the immense growth in the number of teams across the state, you can file that idea away with the square wheel.

It isn’t happening any time soon.

Nearly 2,000 screaming hockey fans flowed through the doors of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Wednesday as Lewiston and St. Dom’s resurrected their rivalry for the second time this season in a meeting that had plenty of playoff and Heal Point ramifications.

Half of them went home happy.

Lewiston forward Sam Cloutier busted up the left side of the rink from behind his own net, found some daylight and bore down on St. Dom’s keeper Josh Charest. His first shot hit Charest, but the puck bounced back to his stick and he buried the rebound 6:44 into overtime to lift the Blue Devils to a thrilling 2-1 win over the Saints.

“It hit his stick and came right back to me,” Cloutier said. “(On the rush) I picked my head up and looked for teammates coming with me. The defenseman went back to the middle with my teammate, so I kept going to the net.”

The tally, with just 1:16 to play in overtime, capped a furious game during which both teams hit hard, skated quickly had multiple chances to score.

“You know that at the end of the year, St. Dom’s is going to be in the hunt,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “They’ve been on a winning streak here, and they did everything that they could to give themselves a chance to win the game.”

“Unfortunately we’re coming out of (the game) with no points,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “Other than that, we’re doing great. Points-wise, it would have helped to get at least a tie, but if you look at the way we’ve played, a lot of our losses have been by one goal and we’re playing much better hockey right now.”

The win solidified Lewiston’s stranglehold on the top spot in the Eastern Class A standings. St. Dom’s started the night in third place, and would have easily moved into second and within striking distance of the Blue Devils with a win.

Ben Wigant nearly ended the game for the Devils with a point-blank, 1-on-0 chance — twice.

With 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Wigant tried to deke to Charest’s stick side on a feed from Cloutier. The senior keeper stuffed him. Again in overtime, Wigant stood toe-to-toe with the keeper. Again, Charest was equal to the task with the blocker side.

“He came up big,” Wigant said. “Going into the game it was, ‘Don’t shoot glove,’ because he’d been on fire with his glove his last few games, so we tried blocker, and he made the saves there, too.”

Charest was admittedly nervous as he started the biggest game to date in his high school career.

The Saints eased their goaltender’s fears a bit when they jumped ahead 1-0 at the 7:54 mark of the opening frame. Dakota Keene, fresh off an officially-mandated two-minute water break, streaked into the zone when the penalty door box opened, and flew toward the left post. Alex Parker fired the puck across the low slot from the top of the right circle and Keene batted it out of the air and past Lewiston keeper Cam Poussard to put his squad in front by a goal.

“I hadn’t played a game like this in my high school career,” Charest said. “It was great to see all the fans there and everything. I was shaking that whole first period. I didn’t stop shaking until after we got that goal.”

Lewiston managed one golden chance to score later in the period. Wigant found a third gear and outmaneuvered a St. Dom’s defender to put himself alone against Charest. Wigant deked Charest to the ice and tried to sneak the puck past the sliding keeper, but the puck smacked his mask and bounced on end in the blue paint before help arrived to sweep it to safety. 

The Devils dominated the middle frame, and poked one past Charest on of their three power plays in the period.

John McDonough swooped in from the left and finished a two-pass setup at the left post that started with a Ryan Lemelin feed to Desmond Gagne at the right halfboard. Gagne then found McDonough back door to even the game at one. 

Poussard had his fair share of work later in the period, stopping a pair of turnaround wristers from Parker and a wraparound attempt to his right.

After a scoreless third, Lewiston held the upper hand in the overtime period. Poussard stopped a pair of shots in front on an Alex Parker chance to set up Cloutier’s rush.

NOTE: Nick Mathon of Lewiston and Josh Charest of St. Dom’s each received a $500 scholarship in a pre-game ceremony as part of the festivities surrounding iHigh.com and the Great American Rivalry Series’ visit to the Colisee to document the game. The awards were presented to the senior on each team with the highest academic standing.

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