LEWISTON, Maine — A slow start doomed Bangor High School’s bid for its first Eastern Maine Class A ice hockey championship Tuesday evening, as Lewiston scored on four of its first six shots on goal en route to a 5-1 victory over the Rams in the regional final at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
Five different players scored as the top-ranked Blue Devils earned their third victory of the season over the second-ranked Rams.
Lewiston (17-3-1) will attempt to win its first state title since 2002 when it faces Falmouth at 6 p.m. Saturday, also at the Colisee. Second-seeded Falmouth edged No. 1 Scarborough 4-3 in the Western Maine Class A final.
“When we get three goals rarely do we lose,” said Lewiston coach Jamie Belleau, whose team now has outscored its three postseason opponents by a combined 24-2. “Now we’re getting five to seven goals and that bodes well for us.”
Bangor, which outshot Lewiston 36-24, ends its season with a 17-4 record.
“In the second and third periods I thought we outplayed them and outshot them,” said Bangor coach Quinn Paradis. “But in the first period we had some bad breaks that hurt us today.”
Bangor managed nine first-period shots on Lewiston goalie Evan Bourassa — just three fewer than Brunswick and Edward Little of Auburn had combined against the Blue Devils in their first two playoff games.
But while the Rams were able to launch some initial shots, Lewiston’s defense rarely allowed follow-up attempts early in the match.
Lewiston, meanwhile, made the most of its early chances while building a 4-0 lead by the end of the opening period.
“I think for the first six or seven minutes of the first period we were a little nervous,” said Belleau. “But then we started putting the puck in deep, and we got a couple of breaks.”
Max Bolduc struck first with an unassisted wrist shot from the blue line that snuck between Bangor goalie Rye Powell and the near post at 3:30 of the opening period.
Kyle Ulrich gave the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead at 6:32, keeping the puck in the offensive end along the right boards and then directing a shot toward goal that inadvertently trickled past Powell off the skate of a Bangor defenseman.
Kyle Lemelin made it 3-0 at 9:25 atter some setup work by teammate Evan Gosselin. Lewiston won a faceoff at its left offensive circle, then Gosselin carried the puck behind the net before slipping it out in front of the left goal post to Lemelin, who redirected the puck into the lower left corner of the goal..
The Blue Devils’ final goal of the opening period came from Gosselin at 11:35, the result of a floating shot from the right point that Powell was unable to glove. Matt Poulin was credited with an assist on the goal.
“One went in, another went in, and all of a sudden it was 4-0,” said Paradis, “which is a tough number to overcome in hockey.”
Both teams displayed increased offensive crispness during the second period but Bourassa and Powell both came up big except for a power-play goal by Lewiston’s Patrick Deblois three minutes into the period after Bangor defenseman Justin Courtney was sent off for interference just 15 seconds earlier.
Lemelin and Poulin kept the puck in the offensive end after the faceoff, with Deblois getting control at the right point and wristing a screened shot toward the front of the goal. Gosselin, who was standing in front of Powell, was unable to deflect the puck and the Bangor goalie was able to get his pads down, but the puck slid through to extend the Lewiston lead to 5-0.
Bangor maintained a 22-16 shots-on-goal advantage through two periods.
The Rams finally cashed in 1:17 into the third period, just seconds after Bangor first-line right winger Jordan Tracy went to the locker room with a possible shoulder injury after crashing into the boards at the end of a 2-on-1 break with linemate Parker Sanderson.
Bangor won the faceoff, leading to a blast from the right point by Zach Papsadora. Bourassa made the initial save, but the Rams’ Zeb Tuell was waiting to pop the rebound over the Lewiston goalie’s glove-side shoulder to cut the deficit to 5-1.
Bangor continued to apply offensive pressure, outshooting Lewiston 9-1 during the first three minutes of the final period but getting no more goals to show for it.
The Rams’ best bid during that sequence came after a shot from the right point by Kyle Farley caromed off a Lewiston defenseman, leaving teammate Nick Graham alone with the puck between the circles. Graham rifled a shot toward the upper right corner of the net, but Bourassa was able to get his glove up just in time to deflect the shot away.
Bourassa, a senior in his first year as Lewiston’s full-time starter in goal, made 35 stops for the Blue Devils. Powell had 19 saves for Bangor.