AUBURN — When it mattered, Poland/Gray-New Gloucester figured out how to keep Edward Little at bay.

After blowing late leads in each of two previous, exhibition encounters, the Patriotic Knights turned the tables on their arena-mates Wednesday, scoring a pair of goals in the third period — one with an extra skater on a delayed penalty and another shorthanded — and held on at the end for a 4-2 win over the Red Eddies in a pivotal Eastern Class A showdown at Ingersoll Arena.

“It’s good to get them when it counts,” Poland/Gray-New Gloucester coach Aaron Rand said. “They’d come back twice on us before, but this is a big one for us.”

The win moves the Patriotic Knights to 5-1 on the season, and gives them an important win over the Eddies, who were also 4-1 going into the game and fall to 4-2 on the young season.

“They took advantage of the mistakes we made, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way tonight,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said. “We had a couple chances to score in the third period and we couldn’t bury them.”

EL enjoyed three power plays in the final eight minutes of the third frame, and actually came out of those chances further behind thanks to Ryan Davala’s shorthanded tally with 2:26 to play in regulation that doubles the Patriotic Knights’ lead to two.

“Especially later in the game on the penalty kill, we were passive in our zone and kept them to the big ice,” Rand said. “When we did get the puck, we had energy left to put on a burst of speed.”

Davala’s goal came on a chip shot from the top of the crease after Adam Healy’s initial rush forced EL keeper Rich Belanger to make a tough save, leaving the goalie out of position on the rebound.

The teams began the final frame knotted at two, but an extended 6-on-5 on a delayed penalty call fixed that in a hurry, in favor of Poland/Gray-New Gloucester. Twice the Patriotic Knights fired the puck from the points, and twice the puck rimmed out to the opposite defenseman. On the third try, Sam Mayer’s offering sound its way through a maze of player in front of Belanger and into the cage.

Poland/Gray-New Gloucester netted a pair of goals in the opening period, the first from Davala with help from Kolby Arnold on a 2-on-1. The second was all Arnold, as the speedster looped around the zone from right to left, into the faceoff dot to Belanger’s right and roofed a shot short side high to put his team on top by two.

“I thought we were just OK in the first period,” Latuscha said, “but I thought we came out flying in the second. We really had some jump.”

Edward Little roared to life in the middle period. Jared Pelletier’s first of two goals in the frame at 7:21 pulled the home team within a goal, and his second, at 12:32, evened things up at 2-2.

Poland/Gray-New Gloucester goalie Matt Ouellette was solid from there, stuffing the Eddies on their final eight shots to register the win.

“He’s been playing solid for us all season,” Rand said. “He’s made some great saves, he’s battled hard and we are where we are right now in part thanks to him.”


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