AUBURN — After battling for two periods in a scoreless game Edward Little found itself having to battle back early in the third.

The Red Eddies did just that, answering early and then providing the final answer for a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Poland/Leavitt/Oak Hill/Gray-New Gloucester in a Class A North boys’ hockey game at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday.

The game was a defensive struggle through the first 30 minutes. There were plenty of shots, but they were spread out in time and space.

“I think just both teams were playing good defense,” EL coach Norm Gagne said. “Neither team was getting a lot of good chances. Both teams were back-checking well, and it was just a shot here and there.”

“There wasn’t a lot of open ice and a lot of time,” Kings coach Joe Hutchinson said.

Gagne warned his team in the locker room during the second intermission that the Kings (5-1) had the better opportunities in the second period.

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“I said, ‘We escaped some real close calls and fortunately it’s nothing-nothing,'” Gagne said. “And so I said we need to play a better third period and I thought we did that.”

First the Red Eddies (4-2) dug themselves in a hole. The third period started with 4-on-4 play before an EL penalty expired 27 seconds in. But before the Red Eddies could capitalize on their man-advantage Connor Cyr gave the Knights the scoring advantage with a shorthanded goal. His rip from the high slot two seconds into a penalty kill raced past EL goalie Gavin Toussaint.

“It was huge. Huge,” Hutchinson said. “He’s been big all year.”

That goal only motivated the Red Eddies, who soon knotted the game back up. Gunnar Winslow fed Marius Morneau, whose shot trickled past Kings goalie Dakota Soucy just over two minutes in.

“That was a real energizer,” Gagne said.

Hutchinson said the goal was a hard-working one for the Red Eddies. The EL goal that came less than six minutes later came on what Gagne described as a “great, great play.”

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“Logan (Alexander) made a great play down behind the net and passing it up. And Ben (Cassidy) was just bang-bang. He had that insight to put it on the far post, and what a play,” Gagne said. “And that’s what we got to have more of.”

Cassidy’s game-winner with 7:16 left was a sour spot in what was an otherwise solid defensive effort by the Kings.

“We just made a bad decision there,” Hutchinson said. “We had a defenseman up, and the forwards, when they changed, we were yelling one of them to stay back and none of them did. They went up, that left one defenseman back there on a 3-on-1. But they got back, and then we went past the net. Everybody went after the puck carrier and we left one guy out front. Big mistake.”

Both coaches said they were proud of their respective squads in what was a matchup between the Nos. 4 and 5 teams in Class A North entering the day.

“We played well on both ends, really, but we still just got to make a few more plays,” Hutchinson said.

“This is a big game,” Gagne said. “They’re a good team, they played really well, it was a real good battle for both clubs. Fortunately we were able to put the game-winner in.”

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Soucy made 25 saves in what Hutchinson said was his best game of the season “by far.” Toussaint stopped 14 of 15 shots.

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Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill goalie Dakota Soucy deflects a shot on goal by Ben Cassidy of Edward Little High School in Auburn on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Aaron Perkins, left, and Marius Morneau, right, of Edward Little High School compete for the puck with Nate Marcotte of Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill during the first period in Auburn on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Gunnar Winslow, right, of Edward Little High School tries to get the puck past Bailey Drouin of Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill during the first period in Auburn on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Aaron Perkins, left, and Marius Morneau, right, of Edward Little High School compete for the puck with Nate Marcotte of Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill during the first period in Auburn on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Aaron Perkins, left, and Marius Morneau, right, of Edward Little High School compete for the puck with Nate Marcotte of Poland/Leavitt/Gray-New Gloucester/Oak Hill during the first period in Auburn on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)


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