The first period looked grim at times again when the two teams met in Tuesday’s playoff battle, yet the Red Eddies hung on until the first intermission, then hung on again at the end against the Rams for a 4-3 victory in the teams’ Class A North boys’ hockey quarterfinal at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

The teams split during the regular season, but the third-seeded Red Eddies (11-8) couldn’t find the back of the net during the first period in either game. The sixth-ranked Rams (12-7) scored first-period goals in each regular-season meeting, and very well could have again in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, if not for EL goalie Devin Dumont. The senior netminder made a number of unbelievable saves, some with the net seemingly wide open, to shut out the Rams in the opening 15 minutes.

“I was tracking the puck well, and I happened to be there when the puck was there,” Dumont said.

Rams coach Chad Foye called Dumont’s stops “Tim Thomas-type saves.”

The Red Eddies had a harder time getting shots on net, stuck in their own end for much of the first period. But among the three shots they took came at the end of a 2-on-1 chance from Ryan Raby to Ben Steele, who didn’t miss on an open shot between the circles.

“It was a big momentum-builder going into the second,” EL coach Craig Latuscha said.

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Raby provided help again in the opening minutes of the second. The junior tipped the puck to Colby Bilodeau, who carried the puck from the right side of the zone to the left, then ripped a shot past Rams goalie Tom Small just 99 seconds into the period.

The Red Eddies were able to kill off the game’s first penalty midway through the second, then Liam Benson made it 3-0 with three minutes left. He brought the puck in alone against two Rams defenders, got around the pair and flipped a back-hand shot over Small with his back to the net.

“I tried to put a move on him, just hoped it gets by,” Benson said.

The Rams finally struck four minutes into the third, with Bret Sproul capitalizing on a turnover in the EL zone to beat Dumont for the first time.

“Between the first and second, second and third we talked about the need just to get one to get things going,” Foye said. “(Bret) finishing that off got everyone else going and got everyone believing.”

Benson grabbed the momentum right back for EL just 32 seconds later with an unassisted goal.

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“He shows up when it’s on the line. He shows up when the big games are here,” Latuscha said. “It was really big. Facing adversity, getting a goal scored against us, fighting back like that was a big momentum-builder.”

Sproul found the back of the net again with less than seven minutes to go, then Anthony Brunelle made it 4-3 by firing into a wide-open net with Dumont on his back just after the 10-minute mark.

A late EL power play turned into a Rams game-ending power play, then a 6-on-4 when Small was pulled for an extra attacker. Yet even with the two-man advantage the Rams couldn’t net the equalizer.

“That penalty kill, that was all hard work and hustle,” Latuscha said.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking for us,” Benson added.

Edward Little advances to the regional semifinals, where the Red Eddies will face #2 St. Dominic Academy on Saturday. The rivals and co-tenants of Norway Savings Bank Arena split during the regular season.

“We’re excited. It’s a rivalry game,” Latuscha said. “It was one of our goals, is try to get to that next game. We’re excited. We got a lot of confidence going into that game.”

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