LEWISTON — Ben Wigant had a hard enough time hitting the cage from 10 feet.
Wigant slid the puck across center ice and into an empty cage with 31 seconds remaining in the third period — his second goal of the game — and Cam Poussard saved his best stuff for last in a sparkling, 11-save third period as Lewiston avenged a playoff loss one year ago to St. Dom’s with a 4-1 victory over the Saints in front of a nearly-packed house at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Tuesday, earning for the Blue Devils a berth in the Class A state title game Saturday.
“We tightened up our ‘D’ well, we forechecked well, our neutral-zone coverage was good tonight and we played a pretty good game tonight,” Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau said. “I thought we could have even had a couple more goals tonight, but their team played well, too.”
Poussard, who lived a life of relative ease through the first two frames Tuesday between the pipes for Lewiston, more than earned his keep in the third, with a pair of spectacular right-leg saves, one of which barely caught the edge of his skate as it skittered toward the lower right corner of the cage.
“The screen shot, I went down and hoped for the best,” Poussard said. “You know they’re going to shoot low, you just have to go down, cover low and hope for the best. The second one, the whip-around shot, I went down the last second. I saw it late, and it just caught my skate.”
“He had to step up and make a few there,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “That’s just another chink in the armor that you have to go through against Lewiston, and we didn’t go through it.”
Wigant, meanwhile, despite solid pressure from the Blue Devils early, appeared snake-bitten. He clanged iron twice. He hit the goalie in the chest twice. He air-mailed the cage at least twice.
But he also scored twice, which was most important.
“The fact that he was getting scoring opportunities is more the focus there than if he missed a couple,” Belleau said. “The bottom line is, he was getting scoring opportunities, we were getting scoring opportunities, that’s what mattered.”
“We had a great season going last year, and they ended it,” Wigant said. “We wanted to come out here and get some revenge for that. We really feel that this is our year.”
The Blue Devils march on to the state final, where they will face Thornton Academy, a first-time state finalist and earlier victor over previously unbeaten Biddeford in the early game Tuesday.
Lewiston shot out of the gate Tuesday, stunning the Saints with a goal just 25 seconds into the game when Sam Cloutier tapped in a backhander at the right post after Wigant and Colt Steele set him up there.
St. Dom’s then had a chance with a two-man advantage, but squandered the chance, and even allowed a breakaway.
Still, the Saints trailed just 1-0 after a period.
“I think we kind of recovered in the first, after about seven or eight minutes in,” Ouellette said. “We started playing more of our game, and went from there.”
Lewiston dominated the early part of the second, peppering Grant Carrier with 16 total shots in the frame to just six for the Saints. The Devils also managed another pair of goals, strikes from Devon Beland and Wigant 1:09 apart.
Alex Parker lifted the Saints’ spirits late in the second, and gave St. Dom’s intermission momentum when he snuck a shot short side between Poussard and the left post at 14:15.
“We were doing everything to slow them down, but look at the third period, they were generating more chances in the third, than they were all game,” Belleau said.
In the third, St. Dom’s rallied hard, testing Poussard and controlling the flow of play. But nothing went in.
“We changed some things up and got some better chances,” Ouellette said. “All in all, it just wouldn’t go.”
The Saints thought they’d scored to make it 3-2, but officials waved the goal off after ruling the net was displaced (with a St. Dom’s player inside it) before the puck crossed the line.
“I thought our player had already shot, and I feel they’re the ones who knocked the net off, but hey, that’s the way it goes,” Ouellette said.
Wigant capped the contest with his empty-netter at 14:29.
Copyright (c) 2011, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
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