AUBURN — It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

A young St. Dominic Academy boys’ hockey team learned that lesson in its season opener Saturday, but it was a positive lesson with a positive result. The Saints battled back from a slow start, then turned a tie game into a blowout for a 6-2 victory over Thornton Academy at Norway Savings Bank Arena.

The Saints (1-0), who started three freshmen, got off to a slow start. That is, the new varsity players had a hard time adjusting to the pace of a high school boys’ hockey game. And before they knew it, they were down 1-0.

Chandler Bilodeau put the Golden Trojans (0-1) up 1-0 less than two minutes into the game, converting on a 2-on-1 rush. Thornton Academy put the first six shots of the game on goal, but thanks to St. Dom’s senior goalie Kyle Welsh the score stayed 1-0.

“I thought we got a lot of shots attempted in that first period,” TA coach Jamie Gagnon said. “We didn’t get many to the net. It’s about getting shots through and it’s about getting shots and being able to take advantage of our opportunities.”

The Saints finally put a shot of their own on frame a little more than six minutes in, then put one in five minutes later. Senior captain Noah Toussaint carried the puck from left to right in front of Trojans goalie Kyle Labbe, then fired it home to finish off a pass from Jacob Lewis.


“It’s almost a minute-by-minute situation of them making mistakes along the way — and there was plenty of them made in that first period,” St. Dom’s coach Bob Parker said. “I was hoping to keep it close, near 1-0. And they did. And we got better as halfway of the first period went through. We just learned from our mistakes.”

The Saints killed off a penalty to start the second period, then Toussaint made it 2-1 four minutes in, taking a shot from behind the net went in off the back of Labbe.

“(The younger players) were a little down at the beginning, and those two goals really pumped them up to finish off the game strong,” Toussaint said.

That lead stuck for the remainder of the period, but it looked tenuous early in the third. TA’s Luke Chessie put one shot off the right post, then another open shot that went just wide. But the third time was the charm, and Chessie snuck in a shot that Welsh couldn’t quite corral to tie the game up, 2-2, a little more than five minutes into the final period.

That was a turning point in the game, as tying goals have the propensity to be. Yet it wasn’t the Trojans who seized momentum from their own goal.

It was the Saints, who received a boost from their captain once again. Only this time it was Toussaint on the giving end of a goal, assisting on Lewis’ go-ahead goal just 46 seconds after Chessie had knotted the game back up.


It was all downhill from there as the Saints got the ball rolling. Senior assistant captain Justin Keaney scored 35 seconds later to make it 4-2. Three minutes later, freshman Will Fletcher converted on a bad-angle shot from the left corner, and senior Sam Blaisdell capped off the scoring with a shot from the point that deflected in.

“We broke the goalie a bit, and we just kept pounding shots on net and we got lucky with them and we put them in,” Toussaint said.

“I’m trying my best on the bench not to jump up and down,” Parker said. “But it’s exciting to watch these kids putting in their first goals, and it’s going to be first of many because they’re very talented.”

There was little excitement from Gagnon’s bench, as his own young team learned its own valuable lesson.

“A couple tough goals, a couple bad bounces there, and all of a sudden now you’re in a three- or four-goal game, when you were right there,” Gagnon said. “The score is probably not indicative of how close the game was.”

Welsh helped out his team’s cause with 24 saves on 26 shots. Labbe made 13 saves for Thornton Academy.

“There might be some tough times during the season, but for right now, this is a good starting point for our team and our young guys,” Parker said.

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