LEWISTON — One shot wasn’t good enough.
Nor a second or a third.
Finally, Cody Rodrigue’s shot — the fourth in succession for St. Dom’s against Bangor keeper Chris Howat — found a seam.
“I think there was a shot from the blue line,” Rodrigue said. “(Howat) got into a butterfly; we were stabbing at him. One of the players, it popped up and I just smacked it. It went right under his pad and in.”
Rodrigue’s effort with 2:47 to play in overtime lifted the Saints to a 2-1 victory over the Rams in an’ Eastern Class A semifinal at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday.
“He’s a big goalie and he plays the position really well,” Rodrigue said of Howat. “Up close, we were trying to go high, but far away we were going low for rebounds, like on that last goal.”
Howat and Saints keeper Austin Christopher were the story for most of the game. The senior Rams’ keeper stopped 38 of the 40 shots he faced behind a young defensive group, and kept his team in the game.
“It was probably his best game at the Colisee, and we worry about the Colisee because it’s always been a rough place for him,” Bangor coach Dennis Collins said. “He was focused and played very well here (Saturday).”
Christopher, on the other end, kept pace when he needed to, stopping 20 of 21, including several in the second and third periods that were otherwise labeled for the cage.
“He started Christopher because Christopher plays well against us,” Collins said. “And I’ve known him for years, and he did a fantastic job between the pipes.”
Howet’s prowess frustrated the Saints’ shooters much of the night.
“It’s pretty frustrating, not getting the bounces out front of the net,” Rodrigue said. “Whenever we would shoot, there would always be a rebound, but we couldn’t get a stick on it.”
Rodrigue’s goal ended a game that could easily have gone even longer. Bangor defeated St. Dom’s early in the season in overtime in Lewiston, and the Saints returned the favor in Bangor with a last-minute goal for a 2-1 win.
“I might have to go home and puke now,” St. Dom’s coach Steve Ouellette said. “It’s nerve-wracking, but I guess the way our two games went this year, it’s justified that it came down to an overtime game.”
The stellar goaltending started early. First, the Rams applied pressure deep in the Saints’ zone for the better part of the opening five minutes, but Christopher was equal to the task. The Rams even earned a power-play opportunity at the 6:02 mark, but couldn’t solve the St. Dom’s keeper.
St. Dom’s earned a power play of its own at the tail end of the first, and continued to build momentum it had begun to build following the penalty-kill. Howat stopped a pair of second-chance opportunities near the end of the first to keep the game knotted at zero.
The Rams quickly solved Christopher in the second. Jordan Tracy followed up a shot by Wyatt Frost, and on his third poke shoveled the puck under Christopher’s right arm and into the cage for the first goal of the contest.
“We didn’t come back deflated. We stuck to our game plan and the guys were playing great team hockey,” Ouellette said.
The Saints’ attack continued. After outshooting the Rams 11-5 in the opening period, the Saints added 13 more in the second while allowing just eight. Finally, one of those chances went in when Kyle Holtet swiped the puck out of mid-air at the Bangor blue line on a muffed clearing attempt and skated in unabated on Howat. He sniped the top left corner of the cage of the keeper’s right shoulder at 10:19 of the middle frame to even the score at 1-1.
The Saints advance to their fourth consecutive regional title game and will again face the rival Blue Devils on Tuesday at 8 p.m.