LEWISTON — The matchup no longer directly affects the teams’ standings in relation to one another, but both Lewiston and Waterville had plenty on the line Wednesday in an early-evening matchup at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

The Blue Devils, top-seeded in Class A North, rekindled a rivalry as old as organized high school hockey in Maine with the unbeaten Purple Panthers, tops in Class B North.

And the Blue Devils earned the win in convincing fashion.

Kyle Morin broke in alone from center on a short feed from Alex Robert, deked Waterville keeper Nathan Pinnette to the ice and slid a backhander over the line with 4:55 to play in the third for his 10th tally of the season, punctuating his team’s 10th victory of the season, 5-1.

Morin is a senior leader on a team filled with young, talented skaters, many of whom have little experience in a rivalry setting against Waterville, which competed in Class A alongside Lewiston until a few years ago.

“He’s been around the past four years and he’s really started to pick up his game in the last few weeks,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “He’d be the first one to tell you it helps to be complemented by four other guys on the ice, but certainly when a senior puts the puck in the net, it’s a defining moment for us.”

Fittingly, it was one of those young guns, Alex Robert, who capped the scoring minutes after Morin’s goal. Robert finished with a goal and an assist.

“We have a lot of talented kids, including some at the younger level,” Belleau said. “What I really liked tonight is that we blocked more shots tonight than normal, and we moved the puck exceptionally well against a hard-working, defensive team.”

Waterville had trouble coping with Lewiston’s depth.

“They wore us out at the end,” Waterville coach Dennis Martin said. “They put us away. They won a lot of loose-puck battles. Any mistake you make, their transition game, they were right back on us. They play four lines, and they all look the same after a while.”

Still, Belleau knew the Panthers would be tough.

“Even when they’ve been down the past couple of years, they’ve been tough, and they’ve come to play,” Belleau said. “That’s what you expect from that team. They didn’t take for granted that they’ve blown through Class B at 10-0-1, and this was an opportunity to make a statement.”

Both coaches knew the outcome of teams’ only matchup of the season would rely, in part, on a fast start.

They both got what they were looking for.

Rancourt made sure Belleau and the Lewiston faithful were the first satisfied, finishing in front into a wide open cage on a feed from Cody Doyon at the right post just 1:25 into the contest.

Not to be outdone, the Panthers earned the equalizer at 2:59 when, in similar fashion at the other end of the ice, Michael Oliveira banged home a feed from Andrew Rodrigue into a yawning cage behind Lewiston starter Jacob Strout.

The Devils also had to kill off a pair of penalties in the first frame, which doused their momentum heading into the break.

“The penalties have got to stop,” Belleau said. “We really came out, the second period I thought we really took it to them and we only got one goal for it, and then late, we took penalties and gave them a chance to get back in the game.”

Waterville couldn’t find the net on the pair of man-up chances bridging the first and second periods, and after the kill, Lewiston found its footing. After a prolonged sequence in the Panthers’ zone, Doyon tipped home a Cole Ouellette blast from the top of the left circle at 5:17 for a 3-1 lead. Rivet collected an assist, as well.

Waterville earned another pair of power plays, these back-to-back, later in the second, but squandered those chances.

Near the end of the second, Lewiston drew a penalty and earned its first power play, which carried over into the third, but the Blue Devils couldn’t finish.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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.