St. Dominic Academy’s Lucas Pushard battles Edward Little’s Marius Morneau while unsuccessfully attempting to score against Red Eddies goalie Gage Ducharme during Friday’s Class A quarterfinal hockey game in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — For the first two months of the season, nothing went Edward Little’s way, and the Red Eddies were 1-10 at the end of January.

Then calendar flipped to February, and the Red Eddies have not lost a single game since, and earned their ninth consecutive win by defeating defending Class A state champion St. Dom’s 1-0 in the Class A quarterfinals at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday.

“It’s fun, it’s a different mojo, I would say; it’s a different vibe, I would say,” Edward Little junior forward Will Cassidy, who had the game-winning goal, said.

St. Dom’s can tell the Red Eddies are a different team from the one the Saints beat twice in the regular season, on Dec. 26 and Jan. 22.

“They are more of a team right now, they seem to have that camaraderie and team spirit, the gel they are playing with,” St. Dom’s coach Dan D’Auteuil said. “They are playing with heart.”

The Saints entered the playoffs on their own eight-game winning streak. The two teams’ eight-game winning streaks were tied for second-longest in Class A, trailing only Lewiston, which won all 18 of its regular season games.

That Red Eddies’ newfound mojo came after a 4-2 loss to Lewiston on Jan. 29. Despite the setback, the way the Red Eddies played against their rival boosted confidence to a level that has been unconquerable since.

Edward Little coach Norm Gagne knew he could use the new playoff format in Class A this season — all 13 teams made the playoffs — to motivate his players.

“I told them because of the new format, that’s all we have to do, get better each day in practice and each game — by playoff time we can do some damage,” Gagne said. “That’s how I felt. More importantly, with the win streak we put together, it was for a reason, coming together as a team, playing for each other and not for ourselves.”

It wasn’t the first time Cassidy had heard the message of just getting into the dance.

“One of my baseball coaches preaches that same thing: you just got to make playoffs, anything can happen,” Cassidy said. “I have been trying to say that, enforcing that once we make it, we can do anything.”

The win streak coincides with the switch to freshman goalie Gage Ducharme.

Friday night was a microcosm of the win streak, as the Red Eddies needed the freshmen netminder to step up. He did on the biggest stage of his young career, stopping all 28 Saints shots he faced.

“You go from playing in your own (home) rink to come playing here (at the Colisee), it’s a lot different,” Ducharme said. “It’s warmer, the ice is a little bit more wet. It’s something a little different, but you have to get use to it, I guess.”

Ducharme said the Red Eddies’ scoring the first goal and in the first period helped him get settled into the game.

Ducharme has notched six shutouts since taking over in the crease. He said he doesn’t want to take the credit for his team’s turnaround.

“Well, I don’t have that much of a factor. I just try to keep the puck out of the net,” Ducharme said. “(My teammates) are the ones who score and do the hard part.”

His teammates might disagree with Ducharme’s assessment of how valuable he has been.

“The goaltender stepping up early on, a freshman coming in, really set the tone. He had like (five) shutouts (coming into Friday),” Campbell Cassidy, a fellow freshman, said. “He got us going, he got the momentum going.”


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