AUBURN — St. Dom’s kept battling for 45 minutes, but Thorton Academy never wilted.

The Saints (0-2) only had 11 skaters but responded three times within a minute of a Thornton Academy goal. Still, Thornton scratched out a 4-3 win at Norway Savings Bank Arena on Wednesday night.

“They played with a lot of heart and a lot of character, with people being down the whole year with COVID and injuries,” St. Dom’s coach Daniel D’Auteuil said. “We had a couple of guys who got hurt during that game; it’s tough playing when you are exhausted. They pulled it out at the end and battled hard.”

Jamie Gagnon, Thornton Academy coach, expected the Saints to work hard, shorthanded or not.

“There was no lead that was going to be comfortable,” Gagnon said. “We kind of knew that even up 4-2, I wasn’t really comfortable until the final buzzer.”

Alex St. John scored twice and Colby Bilodeau had a goal and an assist in the win.

St. John put the Golden Trojans (2-0) up 1-0 just over five minutes into the first period, with Bilodeau and Alex Alonso recording the assists.

“I think Colby or Alex got (the puck) down low and got it on net,” St. John said. “There was poking for it back and forth, it poked out, and I tapped it in.”

The Saints didn’t wait long to respond when Arvid Andersson scored 45 seconds later.

Andersson is an 18-year-olf foreign exchange student from Sweden.

“He has legs, he has speed and he’s a difference-maker,” D’Auteuil said. “It was a thing of beauty on that first goal.”

In the second period, St. Dom’s had three power plays, but the Saints couldn’t convert on any of them. Goaltender Jayden Lynn made a big save on a shorthanded chance on St. John on a breakaway that started in the St. Dom’s offensive zone.

“He has a good enough jump to do that and get out on a rush,” Gagnon said of St. John. “He took it 200 feet and when you are able to do that, it turns momentum around. That flips the ice for us and it brings positive things to the bench when you see that type of effort from your leader.”

On the third and final power play for the Saints in the period, Kyle Lesieur scored a shorthanded goal to give Thornton a 2-1 lead with two minutes remaining. Lucas Hubbard had an assist.

St. Dom’s responded 50 seconds later when Colin Casserly found the back of the net.

D’Auteuil said it’s the team mentality on why they can score quickly.

“It’s the attitude of the kids on the bench when they are down; they kind of have that care-free attitude, and they don’t let it get to them,” D’Auteuil said. “They keep battling. It’s a fun group of kids to be around.”

Bilodeau gave Thornton Academy a 3-2 lead, with St. John setting the goal up six minutes into the third period.

Lynn wasn’t pleased it was called a goal. D’Auteuil was too far away to get a clear view to see if the puck quickly went in and bounced out or if the puck hit the post.

“The referee was right there on the goal line; I am on the bench, I can’t see what happened,” D’Auteuil said. “There are players standing behind there. One said it went in, the other said it didn’t. People watching on LiveBarn (streaming service) were texting me saying it went in, some (people) say it didn’t. It happened so fast, no one is going to know.”

Gagnon, who was on the far-side bench, said he also didn’t have a clear view.

St. John scored his second goal on a breakaway with a nice wrist shot with under three minutes remaining in the game to extend the lead to 4-2.

“Coach said in the second period to use your wheels,” St. John said. “I guess I did.”

Casserly set up Curtis Wheeler in the slot with 2:23 remaining to cut the deficit to 4-3.

The Saints had chances in the final seconds to tie the game, but Thornton goalie Gage Tarbox-Belanger made some key saves to close out the game.

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