LEWISTON — They struck early, they struck often, and the Lewiston Blue Devils left the defending Eastern Class A champion Waterville Purple Panthers absolutely shell-shocked Saturday in a clash of two of Maine’s traditional hockey powers at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

After a nonchalant first half of the first period, the Blue Devils let it fly, scoring four goals less than six minutes apart, kick-starting an 11-0 victory over the Purple Panthers.

“We had four lines moving the puck nicely,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “It’s Waterville. They’re going top play the guys they have, simplify the game, put it in deep and forecheck and they’re going to pound you, and they did that early in the game. But our transition game was really good tonight … It’s nice to beat Waterville, but we’re just looking for ‘W’s,’ one day at a time.”

Four different players scored goals in that opening barrage. Sam Cloutier finished the game with a hat trick and 11 different players registered at least a point for Lewiston.

“If we get our ‘other’ forwards and players to put the puck in the net, that’s going to make us that much stronger,” Belleau said. “It’s good to not have to rely on just one line.”

Cam Poussard made 17 saves to record his eighth win of the season, and the 46th of his career at Lewiston. The shutout was his fourth of the year and 21st of his career.

“What more can any of us say about Cam,” Belleau said. “Cam’s Cam, and yeah, he’ll be the first to tell you he’s as good as he is, but he’ll also tell you there’s five on the ice in front of him, and they didn’t have a lot of quality chances tonight.”

Waterville, meanwhile, started well, and kept Lewiston’s most dangerous combination of Cloutier, Colt Steele and Ben Wigant away from Cody Thibodeau’s cage all together. But when Steele found Wigant on the back door through traffic with the Devils on the power play at 8:34 of the opening frame, the Panthers started playing back on their heels.

“We held them at bay for the first seven or eight minutes of the game,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “Then they got the back-door goal. They do a good job going to the net. Your head has to be on a swivel at all times with them.”

The senior-laden Blue Devils took advantage, pouring on the pressure. Ryan Lemelin split a pair of defenders to create a 2-on-1, took a feed from Jon McDonough in the slot and put Lewiston ahead 2-0 with a backhand deke at 9:50. Brandon Tiner snuck in from the right point and converted on a one-timer on a pass from Cloutier to make it 3-0 at 11:17, and Steele wove his way to the front on a drop-and-go play with Cloutier and scored for a 4-0 Devils’ advantage at 14:05.

Waterville had the better of the pressure and scoring chances early in the second, aided by a Lewiston penalty for tripping. But after Waterville failed to capitalize on any of its four shots on the man-advantage, the Devils added to their lead. Cloutier struck again on a long rebound in the slot after a rush by Wigant and Scott Ouellette left Thibodeau out of position.

“We thought we did OK in the second, holding them to just one goal,” Martin said, “and we thought we might make it a game in the third, but we gave up the two early in the third.”

Cloutier polished off his hat trick 15 seconds into the third, and Desmond Gagne netted a goal at 4:58 of the final frame to drive Thibodeau from the net. His replacement, Dakota Gendreau, didn’t fare any better. Lemelin, Matt Therrien and Wigant scored in a 1:27 span on three of the first four shots the Waterville backup faced to push the lead to 10, and Steele added another 1:34 after that to cap the scoring.

“Their first group is tough,” Martin said, “but they just keep rolling lines out at you.”

Click here to view more photos


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: