LEWISTON — From the first week of December through the third week of February, choosing co-favorites to win the Class A hockey state championship could have been accomplished by plucking names written on folded pieces of paper from an unused helmet.

So why should the second Saturday of March have been any different?

Falmouth and St. Dom’s treated a crowd just shy of Androscoggin Bank Colisee’s 3,600-and-change capacity to a title game for the history books.

Overtime was a given. Resounding hits, near misses and how-did-he-do-that saves should have surprised no one.

Jake Grade’s second goal of the night gave Falmouth a 3-2 victory, 77 seconds before the Zamboni could make an unscheduled encore visit. How much longer we might have been here otherwise is anybody’s guess.

“It was a perfect hockey game in my opinion,” Falmouth coach Deron Barton said. “If you want to come and watch a hockey game and be entertained, that’s the kind of game you want to see. You don’t get many of those.”


You don’t get many five-loss state champions or eight-loss runners-up, either. Likely the number of each could be counted on a single hand.

Thirty years ago, six to eight Class A programs were the rule. Until 2003, four schools – St. Dom’s, Lewiston, Waterville and North Yarmouth Academy – had kept all but one of the championships in Maine history to themselves.

This winter we were blessed with a season in which six to eight was the number of legitimate candidates to win the title.

Even the teams outside that threshold were dangerous. Until St. Dom’s pushed Falmouth’s title defense to the brink, the Yachtsmen’s biggest playoff scare was a 5-4 victory over Class A West upstart Noble/Wells in the regional semifinals.

“Such a fitting end,” Grade said. “Right down to the end, it was so tight all season, West and East.”

St. Dom’s “Drive for 25” ended one shot shy of the prize that has eluded the program since 2000, but the run-up proved that the Saints’ championship tradition is hardly yesterday’s news.


Rejuvenated by a move to its new home, Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn, St. Dom’s beat Scarborough in the season opener to announce itself a contender before sliding into a midseason funk.

The Saints were 6-6-1 on Feb. 1. They responded by winning seven of eight to reach their second state game in three years.

“We had to go through Lewiston who we lost to twice and Bangor who we lost to twice, to come here and play Falmouth who we lost to twice,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “We got the teams we wanted to play.”

Falmouth trailed 1-0 and 2-1 before Grade scoring the tying and game-winning goals.

It was the Yachtsmen’s seventh one-goal victory of the winter, a far cry from the 2013 dream season that was punctuated by a 4-0 shutout of Lewiston.

“That was an emotional game for sure,” said Falmouth goalie Dane Pauls, who made 20 saves. “Going up and down, coming back from behind. My heart was all over the place. Credit to my team for sticking in there and getting the job done.”


“We had the experience, and that’s why I think we pulled that one out there at the end,” Grade added. “They came at us hard. We knew they were going to.”

St. Dom’s three losses to Falmouth were by a total of four goals.

Saturday was the fourth overtime game of the season for each team.

“It’s what every coach dreads and can’t wait for, at the same time. It’s very hard to explain, but that’s the closest I can get,” Barton said. “It’s why we do this. Even if we had lost this game, I would still be just as happy with these kids. In my opinion there was really no loser out there. It was anybody’s game.”

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: