AUBURN — Edward Little coach Norm Gagne knew what was going to happen against Bangor.

“I told the boys before the game, it was going to be a battle because we beat them up there (in Bangor) and they want to beat us in our barn,” Gagne said. “We are going to find out who’s the better team.”

The Red Eddies came out on top of the scoreboard, defeating the Rams 5-4 at Norway Savings Bank Arena in the battle of the top two teams in the Class A Heal points standings.

“I think that was one of the best high school games I’ve seen the past two, three years,” Bangor coach Quinn Paradis said. “We were on the wrong side of it, but I am proud of our kids on how we played. We were the losing team, but I thought we played pretty well.”

Wesley Clements of the Red Eddies (9-0) and Cooper Ireland of the Rams (6-2) each tallied a hat trick.

“I told (my team, Ireland) can dangle and he’s a sniper,” Gagne said. “I kept telling my kids on faceoffs, ‘Make sure who has No. 13 (Ireland) knows they got No. 13.’ I was even hollering it out, ‘Make sure you get on that guy. He’s a guy that will burn you.'”

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Jack Keefe, one of Clements’ linemates, scored a goal and added two assists.

“The chemistry was going tonight,” Keefe said. “The puck was bouncing our way. We were moving the puck well.”

The first period started with Bangor’s Dan McCarthy receiving a five-minute major for checking from behind and then Edward Little’s Tate Morse took a tripping minor 20 seconds into the power play.

When the Red Eddies went back on the power play during the five-minute major, Keefe skated to the left circle, lost his balance but passed the puck to Clements, who lifted the puck past Bangor goalie Jake Hirsch.

The power-play goal came just past the seven-minute mark.

With 5:20 remaining in the first period, Aiden Gonzalez made a pass from behind the goal line to a waiting Clements in the slot, who stretched the lead to 2-0.

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“The first two goals I had, (my linemates) passed (the puck) to me,” Clements said. “They did everything and all I had to do was tap it in the net.”

Bangor responded 18 seconds later when Cameron Lagassie left the puck at the top of the right circle for linemate Cooper Ireland, who carried the puck to the top of the slot and ripped it past Red Eddies goalie Gage Ducharme (15 saves).

Later in the first, Ireland deked past an Edward Little defenseman, then made a little pass in front of the crease to Lagassie, who had an easy tap-in goal to tie the game 2-2.

Both teams settled into the second period. The Red Eddies had a couple of chances that just missed the net and Hirsch (18 saves) had some cat-like reflexes to make a glove save.

Bangor capitalized on a turnover at the Red Eddies’ offensive blue line when a defensemen couldn’t keep the puck in the zone. Ireland chased the puck down in the neutral zone and skated into the Rams’ offensive zone to rip a shot past Ducharme for a 3-2 lead late in the second period.

“It gave us a little bit of life going into the locker room,” Paradis said. “It was, ‘Hey, we are back in this one.’ But (Edward Little’s) first shift in the third period was dynamite.”

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In the opening minute of the third period, Clements’ slap shot found the back of the net to tie the game 3-3.

“We knew what he had to do; we had to score,” Clements said. “We had to play harder than we ever played.”

The Red Eddies had a few more chances early in the third period, including the puck sitting in front of the crease with a half-open net. When Edward Little was shorthanded, Hirsch stopped Keefe on a breakaway. Keefe had a blocked shot later in the penalty kill.

“I thought Jack Keefe played one heck of a hockey game, as well as Wes on that line,” Gagne said. “They stepped up their game, and both are leaders on our team. They did the things we needed to do to get us back in this game. That’s what leaders do.”

Midway through the third period, Keefe finally found the back of the net, putting home a Gavin Levesque rebound and the Red Eddies took a 4-3 lead.

“Hockey gods will reward you if you work hard,” Keefe said. “The whole team was working hard. You can’t do (anything) without your teammates.”

With under five minutes remaining in the game, Ireland completed his hat trick with a shot from the slot to tie the game.

“The first minute and half of the third period, they dominated,” Paradis said. “That was a little bit of a knife in our back. We fought back to make it 4-4. Again, we just ran out of gas coming down at the end of the game.”

Tate Morse scored the game-winning goal with three minutes left.


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