LEWISTON — If a win over Thornton Academy and a tie with defending state champion Biddeford weren’t enough to make an early-season statement, the Lewiston High School boys’ hockey team sent a clear and concise message to the rest of the Maine high school hockey world Thursday night.

With revenge in the back of their minds from last season’s early exit from the playoffs, and perhaps amped up by the larger-than-normal crowd, the senior-laden Blue Devils dominated all but about a minute of the first of two regular-season meetings with St. Dom’s, earning a 5-2 victory over the Saints at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

“We know we have a good club, but so do all the teams we’ve played,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “We have to take it one day at a time. We had a good season last year, and we don’t want to talk about last season, but we have to learn. With maturity, we have to know we can’t take things for granted. We have to play one game at a time, one shift at a time. If we do that, with the team we have, we should have some success. And we want to have success all season.”

Both teams began the day unbeaten in seven collective games. In addition to the win over the Trojans and tie with the Tigers, Lewiston was also coming off an impressive 6-1 win in Bangor on Tuesday. A preseason favorite to win the Eastern Class A crown, the Blue Devils looked every bit the favorite Thursday.

“They came out with a lot of speed, a lot of pressure and they maintained it,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “We just didn’t adapt to it. It took us a long time. We only seemed to adapt to it after we finally scored.”

Sam Cloutier, one of 11 seniors on the team’s game-night roster, led the scoring attack for the Devils with two goals, and goalie Cam Poussard, who has started every game between Lewiston and St. Dom’s the 2007-08 season, stopped 12 shots to record the win.

“St. Dom’s against Lewiston, you always expect it’s going to be a battle,” Cloutier said. “It was. We let our guard down for two minutes, and they scored two quick goals. So in games like this, you always have to be on your toes.”

On the other end, rivalry rookie Grant Carrier, a sophomore, made a sparkling debut in the loss, stopping 31 of 36 shots, many from in tight to keep the Saints in striking distance.

“With all the pressure he saw, that was a big game for him,” Ouellette said. “He was mentally strong the whole game. He really was a bright spot for us tonight.”

The Blue Devils fired out of the gate. They skated faster, hit harder and beat the Saints to nearly every puck.

And they put up some goals.

Cloutier opened the scoring at 5:17 when he cleaned up a loose puck at the top of the St. Dom’s crease.

Brandon Tiner added a second goal for Lewiston at 12:17. Looking to feed a teammate in front, he launched a quick pass toward the crease. Carrier went to swat the puck away and instead saw it deflect off the heel of his blade and into the cage.

Cloutier netted another with time winding down in the frame. Ben Wigant gathered the puck along the boards near his bench. With the coaches reminding him of the time on the clock, Wigant crossed the blue line and looked for Cloutier streaking to the middle. Cloutier whipped a wrister top shelf, past Carrier’s glove.

“I saw the defensemen backing in, so I thought I’d give it a go at the net,” Cloutier said.

“We were really able to come out hard in the first, really establish a forecheck,” Belleau said. “You can’t let a team like St. Dom’s get started. You’ve got to be on them. You have to establish a forecheck, we really tried to tighten up the neutral zone. If you give them any space, with the talent they have at forward, and the speed they have, we knew that would cause some problems.”

In the second period, Jon McDonough elected to shoot on a 2-on-0, trying to catch Carrier off his post. The puck hit the Saints’ keeper under the right arm and trickled through to the goal line. Ryan Lemelin crashed the net hard and pushed the puck — and a crowd of people — into the cage. Officials determined the puck had crossed the line before the pile of players dislodged the net, putting Lewiston in front 4-0.

St. Dom’s threatened to make it interesting in the third. Dakota Keene and Alex Parker scored 33 seconds apart with more than seven minutes to play in regulation to pull the Saints to within a pair at 4-2.

“The first goal, they’re always good on the power play, so, even though it was on a bad penalty on our part, we’ll take that,” Belleau said. “The second one, that was a little sloppy, but we hung on and weathered the storm, and we’ll take it.”

“St. Dom’s is one of those teams, their shots come in bunches,” Poussard said. “You can go a long time without seeing anything, and then they come at you. It’s tough when you’re so into it, and then you have nothing for a long stretch of time.”

Matt Therrien squelched the Saints’ rally at the 9:55 mark of the final frame, knocking home a second-chance rebound from the top of the blue paint to cap the scoring and secure the victory.


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