Leah Dube of Lewiston High School skates the puck towards the net while being defended by Cassady Bussiere of Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland during the first period in Auburn on Jan. 29. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

For the first time in a half a decade, Lewiston and Edward Little/Leavitt/Poland will meet in the North region girls hockey final.

While that may not seem like too long ago, it marks the first time any current Red Hornets players have been one of state’s final four teams. 

“We kind of thought last year was a good chance for us, and it didn’t pan out that way, so we’re really excited that this senior class has that opportunity,” Red Hornets coach Dana Berube said. 

That last regional-final rivalry meeting was also the last year that the Blue Devils won the state championship, which has eluded them the past two years. 

The third-seeded Red Hornets (11-6-3) had to get through another rival, St. Dom’s/Winthrop/Gray-New Gloucester, in the regional semifinals. It was a stunning comeback victory, but Berube said his team is in the regional final for a reason. 

Blue Devils coach Ron Dumont agrees. 

“The Red Hornets are a very good defensive team — and that starts from the back end. Manny (Guimond) has the credentials to keep them in and/or win games for them essentially all by herself.” 

The Red Hornets allowed 36 goals during the regular season, or an exact average of two goals-against per game. Guimond pitched six shutouts, and in three other games allowed just one goal. In the playoffs, it’s been two goals in two games, with one shutout. 

On the other side, Dumont said he thinks the Blue Devils are “as solid defensively as any team in the league,” and the numbers more than back that up. Lewiston has given up only seven goals all season and pitched 14 shutouts, including playoffs. 

Dumont said the Blue Devils’ offense “equally as solid” — if 108 goals in 19 games can be summarized as merely “solid.”

“Our biggest advantage is that our offense is generated through many different players, so I think it makes it difficult for opposing teams to key on defending one or two specific individuals,” Dumont said. 

“We can’t let them get off to a tremendous start. That can’t happen,” Berube said. “So we got to get a good start to the game, and we believe the longer we can keep it tight it gives our girls the opportunity to believe in themselves and gives ourselves a chance. We know it’s not going to be an easy task, but our players are up for the challenge.” 

The Blue Devils won the two regular-season meetings, 7-0 an 4-0. But Dumont knows the Red Hornets can strike at any time. 

“As evidenced by the Red Hornets’ last contest, Caroline (Tracey) can stamp her mark on the game very quickly. So you really need to be aware of where she is on the ice.

“The rest of their team should not be forgotten, either. They are all hard workers, which accounts for them always being a difficult team to play against.” 

Tracey has five goals in the Red Hornets’ two playoff games. 

The junior captain hasn’t had a chance yet in her career to play in the regional final, while the Blue Devils have many players back from last year’s state final team and four have been in the past two regional finals. Dumont, though, doesn’t see that prior experience as an advantage of any consequence.

Wednesday’s the game being held in a different venue than in previous years (the regional finals moved from the Colisee in Lewiston to Troubh Ice Arena in Portland this year) only equalizes things more.

Dumont said his team’s fans travel well, so they should have plenty of support. The long-waiting Red Hornets can likely expect the same, with a chance for the program to advance to its first state final. 

“We’re confident,” Berube said. “We’re not going there to take a beating, we’re going there confident and ready to play. And that’s the mentality you got to have.” 

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