LEWISTON — Sam Canales felt no pain.
A senior captain for the Thornton Academy Trojans, Canales saw Biddeford defender Taylor Reuillard set up for a shot with time ticking away in Tuesday’s Western Class A regional hockey final. He lunged forward, took the shot in the ribs and still had the presence of mind to bat it out of the zone afterward.
“No way,” Canales said. “I didn’t feel it. I was just making sure it didn’t get through.”
After playing a near-perfect first period and thanks to a pair of goals from junior Andrew Carignan and suffocating defense throughout the contest, Thornton Academy bucked the odds in a 4-3 victory over top-seeded and previously unbeaten Biddeford at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
“This is a landmark for us, the first Western regional championship in ice hockey,” Thornton coach Shawn Rousseau said. “Not only did we execute the game plan, and I don’t know how often this happens, but we reinforced our defense … I thought we generated the turnovers that we wanted, and we managed to bring them to the net. To say that we executed our game plan might be an understatement. Aside from the penalties in the second period, I think we played as close to perfect as I could have hoped we could play.”
In perhaps the best defensive period they’ve played all season, the Trojans completely shut down the Tigers’ potent offensive attack in the first frame, allowing only one shot to reach goalie Jay Finch — a Scott Callahan wrister from the high slot with one second remaining in the frame.
“They played probably a perfect first period,” Biddeford coach Rich Reissfelder said. “That’s the best I’ve seen TA play, in that first period.”
At the other end, Thornton managed 11 shots, and none more important to that point in the game than that off the stick of Carignan. Ryan Locke collected the puck, skated into the left circle and fired a shot that handcuffed Jon Fields. The rebound popped into the low slot, where it hit Alexander Lambert before falling onto Carignan’s stick. The junior forward then lifted it past Fields and into the cage for a 1-0 advantage.
“That was a nice shot by Locke,” Carignan said. “It was right off the pad like we’ve been working on all year. I just went to the net and got the rebound.”
Biddeford appeared to get back on track, thanks in large part to three Thornton penalties in the second period. On their first chance with en extra skater, the Tigers cashed in when Tyler Audie buried a rebound in front of Finch after a Scott Callahan shot from the left circle.
Two more power plays went for naught, though, and with time running out in the period, Thornton got itself back in front when Maksut drove up the right wing side, cut to the middle and tried to stuff the puck short side. Fields appeared to make the paddle stop, but the puck popped into the air, and Maksut began to celebrate as it landed behind the confused netminder.
The teams matched each other goal for goal in the third. The Trojans started the period with a fluke goal that bounced through Fields on a long dump-in from Pate. Biddeford answered when Brady Fleurent walked in from the right corner and beat Finch five-hole. Carignan earned his second when he picked the puck off at the Biddeford blue line and walked in alone, and Fleurent again drew the Tigers within one with 3:38 remaining in regulation, setting up a wild finish.
“I think we outplayed them in the second and the third,” Reissfelder said. “Some days, the effort is phenomenal, and you just can’t buy a bounce. We had plenty of chances in front, we just couldn’t bury them.”
The Trojans will take on Lewiston in Saturday’s Class A state final game at 6 p.m. at the Colisee.
Copyright (c) 2011, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
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