LEWISTON — There was never a doubt in Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau’s mind which one of his skaters he’d select to take what amounted to the most important shot of the season.

He turned to Colt Steele and asked him, “You want to take the shot?”

Without missing a beat, Steele replied, “It’s up to you, coach.”

After toying briefly with the idea of choosing a two-minute power play over a penalty shot after a Waterville skater covered the puck in his own crease, Belleau put the game in the senior’s hands.

“I asked if he was ready, if he was going to be comfortable with it,” Belleau said. “During the course of a game, Colt and his linemates generate so many chances, it’s rare that he doesn’t bury one or two of them. He’d had plenty of opportunities, and I felt it was a good idea to give him this one. I wanted to make sure he was ready to do it.”

There was no doubt. Steele skated slowly toward Waterville keeper Cody Thibodeau, faked a shot, glided right and tucked the puck home.


Cool as, well, steel.

“In the first period, I had two chances almost right away, and I missed them,” Steele said. “Coach gave me the chance to shoot that penalty shot. There was a lot of pressure on me right there. But when I went down and made the move and saw it go in, it was a big sigh of relief.”

Relief? Perhaps. But Steele, who chose to play hockey as a senior for Lewiston after two years with NYA and another with the Junior Monarchs organization in New Hampshire, can handle the pressure. It’s part of what makes him such a valuable asset as a hockey player, and as a person.

“When I went to nationals last year with the Monarchs, every game we were in a situation where it was almost do-or-die,” Steele said. “Even though you’ve been in those kinds of situations before, you can never really prepare for them, you have to just take then as they come. I think the biggest thing is to just not think too much about it, and just go out and do it.”

“With his experience, he knows how to consistently do the little things well,” Belleau said. “He knows how to do a lot of the little thing we constantly reemphasize at this level of hockey.”

As Steele has grown in the sport his frame, while sturdy, did not. Listed generously at 5-feet, 7-inches, his ability to overcome a perceived size disadvantage has made him that much of a better player.


“I think there are two things that really help him, where he might not be as big as some other players, and those are his anticipation and his speed, and his hands, his ability to move the puck,” Belleau said. “There have been a lot of talented hockey players who have not been big. The question for those players is always how they compensate for that in other areas. He’s smart, he anticipates the play very well and he knows how to take a hit so it minimizes the impact. And one thing a lot of people don’t realize sometimes is how rugged he can be. I’ve seen him put a heavy hit on a player this season that really set the tone of a game.”

“It’s be nice if I was that tall,” Steele admitted, “but I’m not, and I know that. You have to use what you have to your advantage. I’m not taller, but I can be shifty. I work a lot on my speed and my stickhandling, and I think the biggest thing I work on is the quick release. You have to do all the little things.”

Those little things added up to 47 points this season, to lead a potent Blue Devils attack in scoring, making him a marked target for opponents.

“He’s pretty shifty,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. The Blue Devils and Saints will meet Tuesday for the Eastern Class A crown.

“He’s pretty strong and he can certainly fire that puck,” Ouellette continued. “He’s obviously got great skills. He’s got the whole package. You can’t be too physical with him because he can take that, and he can find someone else who’s open. He’s going to be tough to defend, and we’re going to have to figure out how to do that.”

Still, his experience this season with Lewiston has come with little or no pressure.


“The team was good last year when I wasn’t here,” Steele said. “There was really no pressure to come in here and do anything, and I was willing to do whatever it is they needed me to do this year, whatever it took to help out the team.”

It’s that attitude Belleau hopes pervades the locker room around Steele, noting that while Steele has been a welcome addition, the team also won 15 games a year ago with essentially the rest of the squad that exists this year.

“It’s great to able to add a player of Colt’s caliber to the team, a team that went 15-2-1 last season and is essentially the same,” Belleau said. “We love everything he brings to the table, but at the end of the day, one of the biggest things that has gotten this team to 30 wins in two years is the depth. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on him and what he and his linemates bring to the table, and it’s easy to forget that our depth has really been our biggest strength.”

Even still, two consecutive 15-win seasons, while nice, aren’t what drove Steele back to playing one last time with his friends as a high school senior.

“The decision I made to come back was a good one, I think,” Steele said. “In the summer it was hard, but I know I made the right decision. I wanted to come back and play a season with my friends one more time. But if we don’t win states this year, down the road, no one’s going to remember that we won 30 games in two years.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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: