LEWISTON, Maine — With Saturday afternoon’s Eastern Maine Class A semifinal hockey game tied after two periods, Waterville head coach Dennis Martin’s team needed a break.
The Purple Panthers got that break a little over five minutes into the third period, and proceeded to break the game open.
No. 2 Waterville exploded with five goals in the third period — three by Josh Gaudette — and skated away with a 7-2 victory over the No. 3 Rams at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
No one was surprised the teams were tied 2-2 after two periods. The Rams and Panthers came into the game with identical (12-6-1) records, they split their two regular season games against each other, and were separated by just tenths of a point in the final standings.
“When you play Bangor, it’s going to be a hard-fought game,” said Martin, whose 13-6-1 Panthers will take on No. 4 Saint Dominic of Lewiston at the Colisee in the regional final Tuesday night. “It was going to come down to who got the break and capitalized on it. We got a bounce our way and then capitalized.”
And then some…
The scoring flurry started off three minutes and 17 seconds into the third with Gaudette’s shot from the left side of the net off a deflected pass from fellow captain Kyle Bishop.
Just short of two minutes later, junior defenseman David Cook scored what may have been the goal of the game — unassisted and shorthanded — on a breakaway and a shot from the right circle to top left corner of the net.
After that, the Rams seemed to lose their composure. Gaudette scored again, this time unassisted on a rush up the left side and slap shot to the right corner of the net with just under eight minutes to play.
Bangor penalties followed that, and the Panthers scored on back-to-back, 5-on-3 power plays 47 seconds apart to all but ice the win.
“They took a couple shots and got a couple goals, and we took too many penalties in that third period,” said Bangor coach Ted Taylor. “But to me, the second period was key. It was one way for us, but we didn’t get a couple goals we hoped to have.”
That’s because of the eye-popping play of Waterville senior goalie Ryan Cormier, who made eight of his 25 total saves in the second period.
“I’ll tell you, their goalie was standing on his head,” Taylor said. “He made some saves on shots where we already had our arms in the air, thinking they were going in.”
Bangor scored twice in the period to tie it up after Waterville took a 2-0 lead. Junior right wing Phil Frost scored the first goal on an assist from fellow wing Zach Papsadora with 11:10 left. Defenseman Nick George got the second off a Joe Seccareccia pass with 8½ minutes left in the second.
Still, the Rams felt the score should have been 4-2 Bangor after several point-blank shots, but Cormier had other ideas. Cormier finished the game despite dislocating his shoulder 58 seconds into the third period during a scramble behind the net which caused him to fall to the ice on his shoulder.
“I have problems with my shoulder. It just pops out and comes back in. Once it’s back in, I’m fine,” Cormier said matter-of-factly.
Bangor goalie Chris Howat made 17 saves on 24 shots.
Waterville got two goals and an assist from Nick DeBlois. Bishop also scored a goal.