Cheverus/Kennebunk/Old Orchard Beach’s Terryn MacDonald and Lewiston’s Leah Landry race down the ice to gain control of the puck during last month’s hockey game at the Colisee in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

 

Lewiston and Cheverus/Kennebunk/Old Orchard Beach played two highly competitive games during the regular season, so a third meeting between the girls’ hockey teams is a treat.

Some of their opponents along the way didn’t make the rubber match becoming a reality such an easy task, however.

Both the Blue Devils and Stags were pushed to the brink in the playoff runs through their respective regions, particularly the South-champion Stags (17-2-1), who needed a total of three overtime periods in two games to reach Saturday’s state final at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston (4 p.m.).

The North champ Blue Devils (20-0) didn’t have as difficult of a path to the final, which will be played at their home rink, but rival St. Dom’s did provide them their first and only deficits of the season in the regional final before Lewiston broke through in the third period and claimed a two-goal victory.

Nothing came easy for either finalist during their two regular-season meetings, which the Blue Devils won 3-2 on the road and 1-0 at home.

“These games were close, but even if they hadn’t been, in the playoffs everything changes. You got to be prepared for what you’re going to confront,” Lewiston coach Ron Dumont said. “And I think we got kind of a taste of it (in the regional final).”

“I think, especially that second game, the one thing that we know and they know is that we’re not going away and we’re not going down, that we have the character to fight it out,” Stags coach Scott Rousseau said.

The two teams seemed set up to face off in last year’s state final until eventual champ Greely/Gray-New Gloucester knocked out the top-seeded Blue Devils in the regional final in double overtime before beating the Stags for the state championship.

Rousseau said this year’s team is more savvy because of experiences like last year’s state title game. And while that team rarely faced adversity, this year’s the Stags have had to grind their way to the final, often only sending out eight skaters.

“We’ve had to change systems. We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve been tied or behind in the third period that we’ve found ways to win,” Rousseau said.

The Blue Devils faced a pair of first-period deficits against St. Dom’s, and the game was tied heading into the third period. Then they went out and played their best period of the North final to win. Dumont wants his team to start Saturday’s state championship like they started the final period against St. Dom’s.

He knows the Stags will be ready at the drop of the puck.

“We’ve shown in the stretch run here that we’re not going to flinch, we’re going to play mistake-free hockey, and we’re going to make you earn it,” Rousseau said.

Dumont likened the Stags to St. Dom’s. Neither team is very deep, but both have snipers, including Stags junior Abby Lamontagne.

“That’s the type of player you can’t just leave in open ice. You got to be aware of where she is all the time,” Dumont said.

He also singled out senior defender Zoe Mazur, who Rousseau said in his estimation has been “the most dominant player in Maine this year.”

The Stags’ key players will be going up against a team that Rousseau said doesn’t have any weaknesses.

“They got six forwards that play at an All-State level, they’ve got five defensemen that play at an All-State level, and they have the best goalie in the state (in Camree St. Hilaire). So it’s going to take a pretty special effort to try to beat them,” Rousseau said. “They’re undefeated for a reason.”

Rousseau said a less-heralded player could be the hero in Saturday’s state final, as is often the case, in his experience. The Stags have seen that first-hand in the playoffs, with Lamontagne getting defenses’ full attention.

“We don’t know who that next hero might be, but we’ll figure it out,” Rousseau said.

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