LEWISTON — Everyone thought, and rightfully so, that Saint Dominic Academy was this schoolboy hockey season’s poster personality for overcoming lost causes and jarring disappointments.

Falmouth High School defenseman Jake Grade skated off with that unofficial title in about a four-minute window Saturday night, however. And as a result, his team is a back-to-back Class A state champion.

Grade’s rising blast from the point with 1:17 remaining in overtime hoisted the Yachtsmen to a 3-2 victory over the Saints and a successful title defense before a crowd of more than 3,000 at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Knocked to his backside by a hellacious check from Chase Hainey only seconds earlier, Grade, a junior defenseman, also vindicated himself for a penalty early in the extra session.

He deposited the game-winner over the shoulder of St. Dom’s senior goaltender Caleb Dostie with an assist from Hunter Low.

“I got leveled in the corner down there,” Grade said. “I got up and saw it at the point and said ‘I’ve got to get this over,’ and like Hunter had been doing all game, he made a great pass.”

Isac Nordstrom also scored a goal for Falmouth (17-5), which trailed twice in a game that was a fitting end to one of the most balanced and unpredictable seasons in state history.

Dostie made 23 saves to cap his brilliant playoff run for St. Dom’s (13-8-1). The Saints were seeking to pad their state record of 24 titles. It would have been their first since 2000.

“You’re in overtime and you’re just hoping to get that great opportunity. They got that clean shot away and it was a great shot. They were able to finish it,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “You’re dead tired and you’ve got guys playing on adrenaline at that point. It comes down to who gets that shot.”

Caleb Labrie scored both goals for the Saints, who knocked off the top two teams in the East, Lewiston and Bangor, to reach the title game for the second time in three years. Dillon Pratt assisted each.

Dane Pauls made 20 saves for Falmouth, but it was a near miss by Pratt that nearly sent the St. Dom’s faithful into a frenzy.

Pratt’s potential game-winner sailed just high and wide to the left with two seconds remaining in regulation. It had help.

“He just shot it high glove side. Luckily I got a tiny, tiny piece of it with my arm and saw it go over the net,” Pauls said. “It was kind of a relief but then I was like, ‘Oh, no, we’re got overtime,’ and I could barely stand skating out.”

“It’s a game of inches,” Ouellette added, “and in that case the puck was just below the edge.”

Moments earlier, Avery Jones’ resistance and Dostie’s save denied Andre Clement a chance to weave a similar storybook ending for Falmouth.

Grade went to the box at 2:48 of overtime after tripping up Hainey just in front of Pauls on a centering pass from the boards.

He hunched over at the waist in disbelief — a pose that he maintained behind the glass.

“I didn’t even watch that penalty kill,” Grade said. “I was confident that the boys could kill that off. I knew they would.”

St. Dom’s managed only shot on goal during its overtime power play, and it was a long-range bid that Pauls covered easily in the final five seconds.

Late in regulation and throughout overtime, both teams clearly ticketed everything for the cage, often narrowly missing the connection.

“It was a pretty traditional message,” Falmouth coach Deron Barton said. “Get the puck deep and put the puck on net from everywhere and anywhere. Historically crazy things happen in overtime.”

It was tied 2-2 at the second intermission after a roller-coaster period that saw Falmouth pull even twice.

Having been held without a shot on goal for more than 10 minutes, the Yachtsmen landed the first equalizer at 5:46.

St. Dom’s knocked down a bid by Chris Camelio to trigger a scramble in front of Dostie. Nordstrom cleaned up the mess, sweeping the puck inside the left post. Clement joined Camelio with an assist.

“It was definitely a back and forth game,” Pauls said. “They are an unbelievably coached team. All the credit goes to them. They played an unbelievable game and really fought. Every inch of the ice was up for competition.”

The Saints and Yachtsmen exchanged power-play goals later in the second period.

With Clement in the box for hooking, Labrie launched his second goal of the game, a laser from the inner left circle, at 8:16. Pratt and Mitch Lorenz registered the assists.

In a reversal of fortune from the first period, Falmouth dominated the closing minutes of the second stanza.

Jones was caught for his retaliatory nudge of a Yachtsmen defender after contact with Dostie failed to draw a whistle.

Falmouth took until the closing seconds of the man advantage to break through. Grade did the damage, steering a shot from the right point past Dostie through traffic. Clement and Tyler Jordan assisted.

“I had just missed the net wide,” Grade said. “They had an equipment timeout (for Dostie’s broken mask) and I came over and my coach was like, ‘You’ve got to put that low and in a little bit more and take a little bit off it, because if you just get it on net it’ll go in.’ I was lucky to put it in.”

St. Dom’s continued the three trends that carried it throughout this playoff run: Scoring first, senior goaltender Dostie getting into an early rhythm, and the defense diverting shots and clearing pucks to keep the zone tidy.

The same was true of Falmouth’s Pauls out of the blocks, as well. Pauls, who served up a shutout against Lewiston in the 2013 final, robbed Hainey at the end of a 2-on-1 set up splendidly by Brad Berube.

Labrie’s first goal put St. Dom’s in front at 12:12.

Pratt broke the puck out of the zone with a connection to Cam Stewart just shy of center ice. Stewart dished right, and Labrie buried a wrist shot from the circle.

As was the case in the regional rounds, St. Dom’s confidence snowballed after the opening goal. The minute-long possessions that led to bang-bang chances for Falmouth early in the session were no longer.

“We were blocking a lot of shots and we were taking away some of their time and space to get those kind of shots off, so they’d have to dump it back into the corner and have to try to rework it again,” Ouellette said. “It was a great hockey game. We have nothing to be ashamed of. Our players stepped up these last 12, 13 days and really accomplished a lot, so we’re very proud.”


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