Aside from a bit of early rust, the results proved otherwise.

Isac Nordstrom and Brandon Boehm scored goals 39 seconds apart less than three minutes into the third period and Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls made 13 of his 33 saves in the third period as the Yachtsmen held off St. Dom’s 5-4 in a Class A boys’ hockey showdown at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday.

“We had a long break, almost two weeks off, and there was some rust out there,” Barton said. “It was a rusty first game back. the high points, though, we scored five goals. We’ll take that in any game, especially this year.”

Nordstrom’s tally was particularly significant for Falmouth (7-3-0), coming less than a minutes after a Brad Berube stroke had pulled the Saints (6-5-1) withing a goal at 3-2 at 1:07 of the final frame.

“He made a couple of moves there and besat the goalie,” Barton said. “He’s one of the kids, he was here last year, he showed that composure.”

Down 5-2 after Boehm’s goal, St. Dom’s found its footing later in the third. Austin Roy knocked in a rebound on a power play at 11:16 to cut the lead to two, and Cam Stewart took advantage of confusion at the blue line and beat Pauls with a backhand deke at 12:41 to pull the home team within a goal at 5-4.

But even with a power play in the final two minutes, the Saints stalled there.

“We were pretty ugly for a good period and a half,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “At least half the first and the second period, it was pretty ugly, and we reverted back to that at the end, on the final power play we couldn’t even put the puck on someone’s stick.”

Pauls was a big reason the Saints had a hard time. He faced 31 shots over the final two periods, and finished with 33 saves on the afternoon, including several from point-blank range, a couple of solid sliding stops and two breakaways.

“Any time you play St. Dom’s, home or away, you know they’re going to play for three periods, and you have to have a goaltender who can handle those late-period bursts,” Barton said. “He gives us a chance to win the game. Always.

“He came into training camp in tip-top shape, and he just kept going, and he still keeps going,” Barton added. “Out there (Wednesday), all the saves he had, he was dead tired, and he still controlled the rebounds late in the game. His conditioning comes into play now, and it’s a result of his hard work.”

“Pauls played well, but at the same time, we’re giving goals away,” Ouellette said. “We’re giving goals away. It seems like every game we’re finding a way to give a team a goal or two. That’s what it comes down to. And until we’re mentally strong for three periods, I guess we won’t win the one-goal games.”

The Saints have been in six games this season that were one-goal or tie games in the final minute of play. They are 1-4-1 in those games.

After a burst of energy to begin the game from St. Dom’s, the Yachtsmen pushed back, establishing a presence in the Saints’ zone.

After a couple of minutes of pressure, they snuck one into the cage on an innocuous-looking shot from the left circle. Tyler Jordan sent the puck toward the cage, ostensibly hoping for a tip or a deflection. Instead, it slithered through goalie Zach Roy’s pads and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Falmouth advantage.

St. Dom’s recovered in the middle and latter stages of the first, and applied pressure at the other end, only to have Pauls thwart a pair of solid late-period attempts, including a stare-down with St. Dom’s sniper Brad Berube. On a breakaway, Berube tried a backhand deke, bit shot wide after seeing Pauls’ pad against the post.

The Yachtsmen doubled their lead early in the second in similar fashion to the goal they scored in the first. This time, Boehm picked up a turnover in the Saints’ zone and threw it on net. The puck went through Roy’s pads to put Falmouth ahead 2-0.

At 12:18 of the second, on their first power play of the game, the Yachtsmen made it 3-0 when Jake Grade laced a slapshot from the right point over Roy’s glove into the top corner of the cage.

After Pauls foiled several solid tries from St. Dom’s in the second, the Saints finally beat the senior keeper with 57 seconds to play in the frame when Chase Hainey redirected a rebound past a sprawling Pauls on the backhand, pulling the Saints within two.

They nearly added another in the closing seconds, but Pauls stretched as far as he could to get his right pad on the end of a 2-on-1 to keep the puck from crossing the line.

“It’s a young group, and they don’t have the maturity like the team we had last year,” Barton said. “That’s something you can’t teach. They have to get better at it game by game. And we’re better at it now than we were at the beginning of the season. The hope is that they keep progressing that way.”


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