But that’s what they got.

Jeremy Rancourt netted the game-winning goal for the Blue Devils at 3:52 of the second period in a 1-0 victory over Bangor in the Eastern Class A semifinals on Saturday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. Lewiston will play rival St. Dom’s in the regional final on Tuesday. 

“You need everyone contributing,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “We don’t have many seniors on this team, we have a lot of young kids and this is the first time they’ve played in an environment like this and you really have to give them a lot of credit. We’re going to enjoy right now because we’re going to be ready to play whoever we’re playing, but right now I’m really proud of these kids.” 

Both teams entered Saturday’s contest not having played a 1-0 game. The Rams (13-7)  had been shut out just one this season, a 3-0 loss to Falmouth on Jan. 3. 

“I was thinking it was going to be a one-goal game, maybe a 3-2, 4-3 type of game,” Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. “A little more scoring as we’ve seen the last two games were a little more high-scoring games up in the five and seven range, which is why I didn’t expect a 1-0 game. Both goaltenders put on a show today.” 

In their two regular season meetings, the Blue Devils and Rams combined for five first-period goals. On Saturday, they played a scoreless opening 15 minutes that saw Lewiston hold an 11-7 edge in shots. The Blue Devils couldn’t capitalize on a two-minute, 5-on-3 power play after Nick Graham was whistled for elbowing and Brennan Lane was called for contact to the head. Lewiston had five shots on the two-man advantage. 

The Blue Devils (14-5-1) broke through on their next power play opportunity, and it was their leading scorer who put them on the board. Rancourt knocked in a rebound in the slot at 3:52 of the second period to give Lewiston a 1-0 lead.

Less than a minute into a tripping penalty to Bangor’s Sam Huston, Lewiston’s Griffin Wade fired a shot on target from the blue line. The rebound kicked out to Rancourt in the slot after Bangor goaltender Derek Fournier was unable to clear the puck into the corner. 

“Griffin walked out and I saw him wind up for a shot, so I just went to the net and it hit off his blocker and it was right there,” Rancourt said. 

The rest of the game featured a goaltending duel between Lewiston’s Jacob Strout and Fournier. Despite allowing a goal in the second period, Fournier still made 15 stops in the frame to keep the Rams in the game. He made seven more saves in the third period and finished with 31. 

“Both goaltenders played really well, particularity in the second period,” Belleau said. “That kid made some big saves. It could have been a different game, but you have to give him credit. He came up big in the playoffs. Strout played a heck of a game.” 

Strout made seven saves a piece in the first and second periods before stopping all 10 shots he saw in the third for Lewiston’s second straight postseason shutout. Strout’s biggest save came in the second period when he made a diving stop to his left to deny Bangor’s best scoring opportunity of the night. 

“I lost my stick and the puck on the other side of the net and before I knew it was right on the kid’s stick on the other side,” Strout said. “I had to dive across to get over.” 

Strout finished with 24 saves, making 10 stops in the third period. 

Strout and Nick Hawk, who earned the win in net against Windham in the regional quarterfinals with six saves, haven’t allowed a goal through the first 90 minutes of the playoffs. The Blue Devils didn’t pitch back-to-back shutouts during the regular season. 

“He did outstanding,” Belleau said of Strout. “You always say the cliche about good goaltending gives you a chance to win in the playoffs. We have to goaltenders who have played pretty much back and forth all year. Strout got today and it’s no reflection on Nick. Nick’s done a heck of a job for us and Strout got this game primarily on instincts and primarily on evaluation based on the last two times we played Bangor. He seems to play well against Bangor.” 

The Rams pulled Fournier in the final minute for the extra skater, but couldn’t net the equalilzer to force overtime. 


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